New John Deere agreement is a win for the 'right to repair' movement

John Deere has signed an agreement that allows farmers to fix their equipment closer to home. It's a win for supporters of the right-to-repair movement, but there are still loopholes in the current rules.
Written by Jada Jones, Associate Editor
Image: Derek Poore

Thanks to a new agreement, US farmers and independent repair facilities will be able to access the tools and software needed to repair John Deere farming equipment. 

It can be challenging for rural farmers to visit a John Deere repair center; meanwhile, local independent repair shops can often do the same work. The new memorandum of understanding between the American Farm Bureau Federation and John Deere will make it less difficult to service farmers' heavy machinery.

"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, according to the BBC. 

The agreement comes after years of requests for companies to make spare parts available to customers, particularly in the farming and technology sectors. The 'right to repair' movement calls on companies to make it easier for consumers to repair their devices and equipment themselves instead of chalking up money for repair, labor, and maintenance fees.

Also: John Deere rolls out new battery-powered farming and construction equipment

Last year, President Joe Biden called on Big Tech to make it easier for consumers to fix broken devices. The move also made the device repair industry more competitive, allowing independent repair shops to circumvent restrictions on purchasing device parts.

"Too many areas… if you own a product, from a smartphone to a tractor, you don't have the freedom to choose how or where to repair that item you purchased," Biden said at a cabinet meeting last year.

Before the government stepped in to regulate the repair market, Apple and Microsoft voluntarily rearranged their policies on the matter. Last year, Apple announced a self-service program that sells parts and tools, like camera lenses, screens, and batteries, so that customers can replace broken devices. 

Despite the availability of parts, Apple says "the vast majority of customers" should still visit a skilled and knowledgeable repair professional so as not to damage their device further. However, Apple's decision was a win for right to repair proponents.

Meanwhile, European Union officials have created policies to protect consumers from predatory repair prices and make spare parts more accessible. And late last year, New York signed the Digital Fair Repair Act into law, asserting that consumers have a right to manuals, diagrams, software, and parts from their equipment's original manufacturer. 

However, state laws supporting consumers' right to repair can be faulty, contain many loopholes, and do not cover enough industries, which some tech pundits have already said about New York's law

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