American Farm Bureau and John Deere agree on big win for the “right to repair” movement
By Andrew Harris
The big green tractor, the John Deere tractor, has been part of American agricultural since 1837.
Until last week, owners of a John Deere were forced to use factory diagnostics and parts to make repairs, or face terminating the machine’s warranty agreement.
For farmers and other tractor owners, this created logistical and economic hardship, a key complaint of the “right to repair” push. Whether it is an Iphone or a tractor, the end user agreements of many modern devices and machines require factory repairs to maintain a warranty. In many cases, the cost of the repairs force consumers to consider: “Should I just buy a new one?” Many new John Deere tractors are over a quarter million dollars.
Farmers in general are also mechanics and repairing equipment as efficently as possible can make or break a farm’s finances. Finding a certified John Deere shop, especially in remote locations, can be a challenge and threaten productivity. The scenario plays out all the time:
Farmer Brandes spies a weather window which will be perfect for tilling. He gets his new John Deere tractor about an hour into a five hour job when something breaks. It isn’t a big repair job, and can be done right in the field using the farm’s parts inventory. Brandes has to make a decision: Repair the tractor and finish the job today before a week of rain hits, or call the dealer. That call means the warranty is preserved but the cost of repairs becomes hard to calculate in time and money. What would have been a few hours, could turn into a few days. What would have cost $100 to fix, will now cost $800. As if farming isn’t hard enough.
The US Farm Bureau has announced a solution to that common quandary in a new agreement signed with John Deere: Farmers may now repair thier own tractor or hire an independent repair shop. Farmers will no longer be required to use factory parts.
The Right to Repair movement, growing nationwide, has a motto: “If you can’t fix it, you don’t own it!” That movement is gaining traction in the United States, with support across the political spectrum.
Read the full Memo of Understanding between the Farm Bureau and John Deere: