If Federal Trade Commission agrees with allegations of anticompetitive repair practices, it could take immediate action
WASHINGTON – A group of farmers’ unions, farm advocacy groups and right to repair advocates has filed a complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleging Deere & Company has unlawfully withheld the software and data necessary for farmers and ranchers to repair their Deere machinery. U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s 2021 report Deere in the Headlights documented how repairing modern tractors requires software tools that farmers cannot access. Then, last July, the FTC announced that it will, “prioritize investigations into unlawful repair restrictions” and “devote more enforcement resources to combat these practices.”
Deere in the Headlights II, a report published by U.S. PIRG Education Fund last week, highlighted how Deere’s efforts to consolidate dealerships into large chains is making this problem worse. The company’s dealer mergers means that there is one John Deere chain for every 12,018 American farms and every 5.3 million acres of American farmland.
In response, Kevin O’Reilly, U.S. PIRG’s Right to Repair campaign director, issued the following statement:
“For years, John Deere has been locking farmers out of fixing their own tractors. And for years, farmers have been raising the alarm that the corresponding high repair costs and service delays are putting their crops and livelihoods at risk. A broken tractor is little help when weather threatens a harvest or a planting window is closing. Farmers need to be able to fix their equipment so that they can produce the food that goes on our kitchen tables.
“This complaint is putting John Deere on notice. Not only are we saying that Deere needs to provide access to all needed repair materials—we’re arguing in this filing that the company is breaking the law by not doing so.
“We are very excited about what the FTC can do to solve this problem. Its subpoena power means that the Commission can leave no stone unturned in getting to the bottom of the dubious claims that Deere makes to defend its anticompetitive behavior. The FTC’s enforcement power means that it can immediately force the company to make needed tools available. Repair relief for farmers could be right around the bend.”
Check out a recording of a panel discussion on the complaint, featuring Missouri farmer Jared Wilson, Montana Farmers Union President Walter Schweitzer, U.S. PIRG Right to Repair Campaign Director Kevin O’Reilly, Farm Action President Joe Maxwell and lead petition author Jamie Crooks.