US farmers get right to "repair" their own John Deere tractors

US farmers get right to "repair" their own John Deere tractors

John Deere has reached a voluntary agreement with farmers groups about the right to repair. While its important around the margins, its unlikely to slow the growth in ag tech.

Summary: The debate around the "right to repair" farm machinery has been rumbling on for some time. A few decades ago, a farmer often had the skills, and the tools, needed to quickly make repairs if their machinery broke down. These days, however, it’s not so straightforward. For farmers with modern tractors, even if they had the skills, they do not have access to the software and diagnostics that they need. Which means they are reliant on dealer networks for repairs and servicing. The recent agreement with John Deere suggests this might slowly be changing.

Why this is important: Will this agreement slow the move toward right to repair legislation, do we expect it to undermine the position of the big three manufacturers (John Deere, AgCo and CNH Industrial) and will it shift the spotlight to data? The important question is will this end up materially changing the dynamic of the industry - we suspect not.

The big theme: Improvements in crop yields have been essential to our ability to feed a growing global population, and more sophisticated farm machinery has played an important role in this. Despite volatility in farm incomes, farmers have adopted technology that works and have done so quickly. This was seen with tractors 100 years ago and with biotech seeds in the 1990s. Indeed, farming is already a tech heavy industry and becoming ever more so. Spending on agtech has risen from c. 20% of US farm pre-tax profits in the 1940s to almost 80% today. The flip side has been an increasing reliance on equipment that farmers cannot repair themselves, and increasingly, to questions about the uses of the data that the machines collect.

The details

Summary of a story from Agweb Farm Journal

The “right to repair” issue has been a topic of debate both in and outside of agriculture. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by Deere & Co and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) means farmers will be able to repair their own equipment. The MOU was announced during AFBF’s annual meeting in Puerto Rico on Sunday. According to both Deere and AFBF, the MOU formalizes the availability and access to parts, tool, software and documentation to perform repair and maintenance.

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