A survey released this week shows that farmers are losing an average of $3,348 per year to repair downtime and restrictions because farm equipment makers limit their ability to fix tractors, combines, and other equipment.
So-called right-to-repair laws won’t help consumers but could damage the retailers and manufacturer-authorized repair shops now in business, said a string of Republican lawmakers at a House hearing on Wednesday, while a consumer advocate warned that “repair monopolization” was pervasive in sectors including personal computing, TVs, and agriculture.
The world's largest farm equipment maker, Deere and Co., said on Tuesday it will begin sales later this year of a "fully autonomous tractor that's ready for large-scale production," but limited for the moment to tillage. "The machine combines Deere's 8R tractor, TruSet-enabled chisel plow, GPS guidance system, and new advanced technologies," said Deere, which unveiled the autonomous tractor at a consumer technology show in Las Vegas.
The world’s largest farm equipment maker, Deere and Co., unlawfully forces farmers to pay a Deere dealer when their tractors or other equipment break down, said farm groups in a “right to repair” complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission on Thursday. The FTC said last year that it would ramp up its law enforcement against repair restrictions that prevent small businesses, workers, and consumers from fixing their own products.
Deere and the United Auto Workers agreed over the weekend on a proposed six-year contract covering 10,000 union workers at the world's largest farm equipment manufacturer. The UAW said its members would remain on strike during consideration of the agreement.
The world's largest farm equipment maker, Deere and Co., said managers and other salaried employees would keep its factories operating in the face of a strike by 10,000 union workers. "We'll keep running," the company said on Thursday.
Less than two weeks after President Biden called for federal agencies to encourage competition, the Federal Trade Commission voted, 5-0, on Wednesday to "ramp up law enforcement against repair restrictions" that limit the rights of consumers and small businesses to fix the products they purchase.
The world's largest farm equipment maker, Deere and Co., expects sales of its agricultural equipment to decline by 5-10 percent globally in the year ahead due to lower demand for big machinery. "Lingering trade tensions coupled with a year of difficult growing and harvesting conditions have caused many farmers to become cautious about making major investments in new equipment," said chief executive John May.
Farmers are sitting on their checkbooks instead of buying new equipment because of the Sino-U.S. trade war and planting delays in the United States, said the chief executive of Deere and Co., the world's largest farm equipment manufacturer. Deere, which also makes construction and logging equipment, said overall sales fell 3 percent during May, June and July, led by a 6- percent drop in agriculture and turf, its largest division.
The great majority farmers under the age of 35 hold a college degree, significantly higher than the U.S. average. It is a cohort that "is already contributing to the growth of the local-food movement and could help preserve the place of midsize farms in the rural landscape," says the Washington Post. It cites the 2012 Census of Agriculture as saying the number of farmers under the age of 35 is increasing for only the second time in a generation.
"Nothing runs like a Deere," according to an old tagline for the world's largest farm equipment maker, and nothing lends like a Deere, either, says the Wall Street Journal. The company, which lends billions of dollars to farmers who buy its equipment, "is providing more short-term credit for crop supplies such as seeds, chemicals and fertilizer, making it the No. 5 agricultural lender."
Farmers are calling for free access to the software that runs their tractors and other farm equipment. "You're paying for the metal but the electronic parts technically you don't own it. They do," says Kyle Schwarting, a farmer in southeast Nebraska.
The company synonymous with Peoria, Ill., Caterpillar, will move its global headquarters to Chicago because it is closer to the global marketplace for the world's largest manufacturer of earth-moving equipment, says the Peoria Journal Star. Caterpillar was founded in Peoria, in central Illinois, in 1925 and has been the dominant employer.
Saul Berenthal, a co-founder of the company that hoped to assemble farm tractors in Cuba, told the Miami Herald, "We're not giving up," after Cuba rejected the proposal. Interviewed at the Cleber tractor booth at a trade show in Havana, Berenthal said the Paint Rock, AL, company will build its tractors in the United States and try to export them to Cuba and other countries.
When they need to rent a tractor, small farmers in India typically have to rely on local owners, who may be arbitrary in their fees and cavalier in their treatment of their customers. A major Indian vehicle manufacturer offers the agricultural version of Uber or Lyft — a smartphone app to specify when they need a tractor and for what chores, says the New York Times.
A USDA agronomist in Minnesota has invented an air-powered device that shoots out farm residues — "from seed meals to nut shells, fruit pits, and corn cob grits" — at weeds and pulverizes them while leaving corn shoots standing tall, reports Modern Farmer. Dried chicken manure is a current favorite to target the pesky plants. “We can weed and feed at the same time,” Frank Forcella told the magazine.
Agriculture Minister Gustavo Rodriguez Rollero told a U.S. audience that Cuba wants to expand farm output dramatically, in part to feed the increasing stream of tourists to the island. The country now imports $2 billion in food annually "but we want to produce at least 50 percent," Rodriguez said at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce during a visit to Washington and Iowa, reported Agencia EFE.
The miniaturization of farm machinery may be the ag-tech counter-trend that actually encourages smaller, more diverse farms.
The pedal-driven Bicitractor is "a green, silent, healthy alternative" for small vegetable farms that can't afford, or don't want, a conventional tractor, says Makezine. "Created by farmers for farmers, it performs a variety of agricultural tasks, working the soil to a maximum depth of 5 cm, which is popular with the no-till farming movement.