US farmers have won the right to repair their John Deere tractors and other John Deere branded equipment.

In a recent breakthrough, John Deere has agreed to provide its US customers the right to repair their own equipment under an agreement it signed on Sunday 8 January with farm industry representative body the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).

Until now, US farmers were only allowed to use official John Deere dealers rather than independent repair options or to repair it themselves. This marks a significant breakthrough for John Deere customers, who have been campaigning for years regarding the repair limitations imposed on Deere products and technology.

Software locks

This ranges from software locks to the restriction of diagnostic tools and parts to third parties, requiring customers to use only official dealers for repairs. These restrictions have led to multiple US lawsuits against the company over the last number of years.

The document or memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed on Sunday now provides farmers and customers with access to Deere’s diagnostic tools, data and documentation previously only held by official John Deere dealers.

Essentially, US farmers can diagnose and repair their own equipment or choose an independent repair specialist.

The AFBF officials agreed not to proceed with state or federal legislation promoting users’ right to repair products they’ve leased or purchased.

Under the MOU, farmers and third-party dealers may not disable on-board safety features or use their access to Deere’s technology to illegally copy the software controlling their equipment.

Freedom to choose

“Farmers must have the freedom to choose where equipment is repaired, or to repair it themselves, to help control costs. The MOU commits John Deere to ensuring farmers and independent repair facilities have access to many of the tools and software needed to grow the food, fuel and fibre America’s families rely on,” said AFBF president Zippy Duvall.

John Deere senior vice-president ag and turf sales and marketing David Gilmore said: “This agreement reaffirms the longstanding commitment Deere has made to ensure our customers have the diagnostic tools and information they need to make many repairs to their machines.

"We look forward to working alongside the American Farm Bureau and our customers in the months and years ahead to ensure farmers continue to have the tools and resources to diagnose, maintain and repair their equipment.”

The agreement formalises farmers’ access to diagnostic and repair codes, as well as manuals (operator, parts, service) and product guides.

It also ensures farmers will be able to purchase diagnostic tools directly from John Deere and receive assistance from the manufacturer when ordering parts and products.