Statement: Farm Bureau signs Right to Repair deal with John Deere

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Advocates hesitant to praise deal given manufacturers’ inconsistent history with past repair commitments

SAN JUAN, P.R. – The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and John Deere signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) about agricultural Right to Repair on Sunday. The agreement comes after years of campaigning from farmers and repair advocates to remove barriers to independent repair of farm equipment such as tractors and combine harvesters.

With varying state-to-state engagement, Farm Bureau state chapters have been key supporters of the Right to Repair in many states where legislation has made significant progress. The MOU stipulates that AFBF encourages its state organizations to “refrain from introducing, promoting, or supporting federal or state ‘Right to Repair’ legislation that imposes obligations beyond the commitments in this MOU.” 

Equipment and device manufacturers have made limited commitments to expand repair access in the past, including a 2018 statement of principles that stated that farmers would be able to use certain diagnostic tools by 2021. An investigation conducted by PIRG and VICE found that such tools were not available on the timeline prescribed by tractor-makers.

In response, PIRG Right to Repair Campaign Director Kevin O’Reilly issued the following statement:

“Through our research and advocacy, we’ve made it abundantly clear that farmers don’t have everything they need to fix their own tractors, and that they are frustrated that they don’t have the repair choices that they deserve. We won’t stop pushing for Right to Repair legislation until farmers can access every wrench, bolt, diagram, diagnostic readout and software file they need to fix 100% of their equipment.

“This could be a significant step forward. If Deere truly provides farmers and independent mechanics with the same repair materials that its dealers have, then we would shout our praise from the rooftops. But the MOU contains limited enforcement mechanisms and the best aspects of this agreement could get lost in the legalese. Like Charlie Brown, farmers have lined up for the kick too many times to let Lucy pull the ball away again.

“As legislators kick off their 2023 sessions, they should move full steam ahead with their Right to Repair bills and not view this MOU as a sign that the problem is solved. They should continue pushing Right to Repair legislation until every farmer in every state with every brand of equipment can fix every problem with every tractor.”

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