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John Deere Agrees to Right-to-Repair

Updated on 2023-01-09: John Deere Agrees to Right-to-Repair

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and agricultural machinery maker John Deere have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will allow owners of John Deere equipment to repair their own machines or have them repaired by independent third-parties. AFBF’s president said that the memorandum “ensur[es] farmers and independent repair facilities [will] have access to many of the tools and software needed.”

Note

  • This is huge. These are very expensive machines, and when needed, they are needed, often running 24×7 during peak seasons. As such, they need to be able to be repaired without waiting for a factory representative to be sent, let alone trying to purchase a replacement or borrow from a neighbor with as much need and time crunch as you have. This should also encourage in-field changes to help them better suit the needs in “the field.” Often these innovations/modifications (hacks) make their way back to mainstream production when discovered in the field. That said, be sure you know what you’re doing before offering to alter a $1M combine.
  • Deere’s policies have been a prime public example of those that have motivated the “right to repair” initiatives. The threat of legal redress may have been essential to this agreement. That said, such specific agreements may be preferable to broad legislation.

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Overview: New York Governor Hochul Signs Watered-Down Right-to-Repair Bill

On December 28, 2022, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed a right-to-repair bill into law. The Digital Fair Repair Act had passed both chambers of the state’s legislature months earlier.

While some have hailed the bill as landmark legislation, others are disappointed that many of the bill’s original provisions have been watered down or removed completely. The bill will apply only to devices sold on or after July 1, 2023.

Note

  • The phrase “baby steps” comes to mind. Even so, this is a step in the right direction. This is the first such bill passed in the US: future bills will build upon this to achieve more comprehensive provisions to better support third-party repair of devices. The bill was weakened through efforts to ensure that safety and security were not compromised with these efforts. Regardless of the provisions, you still need to include due diligence when qualifying repair services, as well as determine where the repair vs replace lines are for your equipment.
  • For most end-users, exercising their right to repair will be at the expense of their security.

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