John Deere is going to give farmers the tools to fix their equipment. According to The Wall Street Journal, the company signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the American Farm Bureau Federation to ensure that farmers can take their machines to third party repair shops.
John Deere has been in the middle of the right-to-repair debate for a long time. Farmers and repair shops can't diagnose and fix machines because the company puts software locks on them. When Russians stole Ukrainian farm equipment last year, it showed that it could remotely shut down machines. This new agreement is supposed to fix the limitations that have led some farmers to hack their tractor.
John Deere makes its software, tools, and documentation available to both farmers and repair shops through a Memorandum of Understanding. It states that owners and third-party technicians can't compromise a machine's safety features through modifications and assures that John Deere's copyrighted software is protected from illegal use.
This seems like a step in the right direction, but it is written in a way that could allow John Deere to skirt right-to-repair legislation. The agreement states that the AFBF will discourage state Farm Bureau organizations from supporting federal or state legislation. The AFBF and John Deere can walk away from the agreement if the right-to-repair legislation passes. Legislation that could potentially cement and expand repair rights for consumers is not something John Deere wants to do.
In response to widespread criticism of its policies, John Deere loosened restrictions on the repairability of its equipment and promised to increase the availability of its diagnostic tools. John Deere is committed to enabling customers to repair the products that they buy and that customers can repair most of the issues on a piece of John Deere equipment, according to the company's chief technology officer.
There’s nothing that prohibits them from doing them. Their wrenches are the same size as our wrenches. That all works. If somebody wants to go repair a diesel engine in a tractor, they can tear it down and fix it. We make the service manuals available. We make the parts available, we make the how-to available for them to tear it down to the ground and build it back up again.
As part of the agreement, John Deere and the AFBF will meet at least semi-annually to evaluate how the equipment-maker is addressing operational concerns and suggest updates to the Memorandum of Understanding.
The Digital Fair Repair Act was enacted in New York last year and gives consumers and independent technicians the right to get the manuals, diagrams, diagnostics, and parts they need from original equipment manufacturers. The bill was severely limits by a controversial adjustment. They won't be forced to give the necessary information.
David Gilmore is John Deere's senior vice president of sales and marketing. The opportunity for them to maximize the uptime of that equipment is an important area of focus for our organization.
We will have to wait and see if John Deere holds up its end of the agreement, or if the agreement will last amidst a push for right to repair laws.