John Deere will let US farmers repair their own equipment

The deal comes amid political pressure over right to repair measures.

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John Deere has been one of the stauncher opponents of right to repair regulation, but it's now willing to make some concessions. Deere & Company has signed a memorandum of understanding with the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) that lets US farmers and independent repair shops fix equipment, rather than requiring the use of authorized parts and service centers. Users will have access to official diagnostics, manuals, tools and training. Deere will let owners disable electronic locks, and won't bar people from legally obtaining repair resources even if the company no longer offers them.

The agreement includes some protections for the equipment maker. John Deere won't be required to "divulge trade secrets," or to allow repairs that might disable emissions controls, remove safety features or modify power levels. Unsurprisingly, fixes also can't violate the law.

The memorandum is effective as of January 8th, although John Deere didn't detail exactly how or when it would alter its practices. We've asked the company for comment. In a statement, senior VP Dave Gilmore said the company was looking forward to working with customers and the ABFB in the "months and years ahead" to provide repair facilities.

The pact is characterized as a "voluntary" private arrangement. However, it comes alongside mounting political pressure that effectively gave John Deere little choice but to improve repairability. President Biden ordered the Federal Trade Commission to draft right to repair regulation in 2021, while states like New York have passed their own (sometimes weakened) legislation. If Deere doesn't act, it risks legal battles that could limit where and how it does business in the country.

As it stands, the farm equipment maker isn't alone in responding to government action. Apple, Google, Samsung and other tech brands now have do-it-yourself repair programs in place. Microsoft will offer Surface parts to users later this year.

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