John Deere and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) have signed a memorandum of understanding guaranteeing US farmers the right to repair John Deere equipment
Farmers in the US will be able to purchase software diagnostic tools, allowing them to take their equipment to a dealer of their choice or repair the machinery themselves – something Australian farmers are still fighting for.
The memorandum of understanding follows several years of discussions between the two sides.
AFBF president Zippy Duvall said the agreement “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”.
“A piece of equipment is a major investment. Farmers must have the freedom to choose where equipment is repaired, or to repair it themselves, to help control costs,” Mr Duvall said.
John Deere’s senior vice president for ag and turf sales, David Gilmore, said the agreement “reaffirms the longstanding commitment Deere has made to ensure our customers have the diagnostic tools and information they need to make many repairs to their machines.”
The US MoU has highlighted the fact that this isn’t an option in Australia, where software malfunctions can leave hundreds of thousands of dollars of machinery sitting in paddocks until an authorised repairer is available.
Renewed calls for right to repair
Right to repair advocates have renewed their calls for Australian reform after the US John Deere deal.
“For years we’ve been calling for Australian farmers to have the right to repair their agricultural machinery,” NFF President Fiona Simson said.
“Farmers are small business owners who should have the same right as anyone else to have their machinery repaired by their preferred repairer or make small repairs on farm without fear of voiding warranties,” she said.
Speaking with ABC, Ms Simpson highlighted the disadvantage it puts Australian farmers at, particularly during peak harvest seasons.
“[Farmers] can’t even access a technician to work out what’s wrong with it, let alone fix it themselves because of the onerous agreements that the manufacturers have put in place.”
Productivity Commission’s Report Back in Spotlight
Little has changed since the Productivity Commission released its report in May 2021 that found there were significant and unnecessary barriers to repair for some products.
The report said purchasers of agricultural machinery would benefit from more independent competition in servicing and repair markets. It proposed measures aimed to enhance consumers’ right to repair, including changes to consumer and intellectual copyright laws.
The Productivity Commission said it wanted to see the recommendations implemented by the end of 2022.