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.
Federal and state lawmakers "should move full steam ahead with their right-to-repair bills" this year, said consumer group PIRG, which took a skeptical view of a memorandum of understanding between Deere and Co. and the largest U.S. farm group on equipment repair. In the agreement, the American Farm Bureau Federation says it will urge state affiliates to stay on the sidelines of the right-to-repair debate.
The Farm Bureau Federation and John Deere signed a memorandum of understanding on farmers' right to repair their equipment on Sunday — potentially a breakthrough after years of complaints that manufacturers prevented access to the increasingly computerized controls of 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., 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.
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.
Siding with farm activists, President Biden said "Big Ag is is putting a squeeze on farmers" and signed an executive order telling the USDA to rejuvenate the livestock, seed, fertilizer and retail food markets. The executive order on competition, reaching from the FDA to the Pentagon, called on the FTC to enact right-to-repair rules so farmers can fix their own tractors rather than take them to the dealership when software malfunctions.
President Biden will issue an executive order to expand competition in the agricultural sector and assure farmers of the right to repair increasingly complex tractors and other equipment, said the White House on Tuesday. The "right-to-repair" rules were expected to include smartphones and other widely used devices.