A victory for consumers: US farmers now can repair John Deere equipment

In a big win for consumers, US tractor maker John Deere has agreed to give its customers the right to fix their own equipment, as farmers were previously only allowed to use authorised parts and service facilities rather than cheaper independent repair options.

President Biden signed an executive order in 2021 calling on the Federal Trade Commission to draw up a countrywide policy allowing customers to repair their own products, particularly in the technology and agriculture sectors. Some US states like New York and Massachusetts and have passed similar measures.

Farmers are part of a grassroots right-to-repair movement that has been putting pressure on manufacturers to allow customers and independent repair shops to fix their devices.

Deere and Co is one of the world’s largest makers farming equipment. Consumer groups have for years been calling on companies to allow their customers to be able to fix everything from smartphones to tractors.

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and Deere & Co signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Sunday.

The move means farmers will now have access to diagnostic and repair codes and their meanings; manuals (operator, parts, service) and product guides; ability to directly purchase diagnostic tools from John Deere; and assistance from John Deere when ordering parts and products.

“It addresses a long-running issue for farmers and ranchers when it comes to accessing tools, information and resources, while protecting John Deere’s intellectual property rights and ensuring equipment safety,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said.

Under the agreement, equipment owners and independent technicians will not be allowed to “divulge trade secrets” or “override safety features or emissions controls or to adjust Agricultural Equipment power levels.”

The firm looks forward to working with the AFBF and “our customers in the months and years ahead to ensure farmers continue to have the tools and resources to diagnose, maintain and repair their equipment,” Dave Gilmore, a senior vice-president at Deere & Co. said.

In 2022, Apple launched a “self-service repair” scheme giving customers the ability to replace their own batteries, screens and cameras of recent iPhones.

The UK and European Union have policies enforcing manufacturers to make spare parts available to customers and independent companies for some electronics.

“Consumers have long been complaining that products not only tend to break down faster than they used to, but that repairing them is often too costly, difficult to arrange for lack of spare parts, and sometimes impossible,” according to the European Parliamentary Research Service.

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