The right to repair.
John Deere Corporate Might Have Reason to Panic, But Farmers Will Love What’s Happening
Farmers have been battling the manufacturers of their high-tech farming machinery for years over the right to repair their equipment on their own.
Major companies in the space, including John Deere, began restricting products to manufacturer exclusive service contracts.
These contracts lock out the farmers who own tractors, for instance, from making even small repairs to their machines. Instead, when something breaks down, farmers have to call the manufacturer or dealer to schedule a repairman to come out and service the device, forcing the farmer to shut down his operations while waiting for the repairman to come out to the farm.
This is obviously a serious problem for farmers who are under strict time restrictions during planting and harvesting seasons.
Farmers have been contesting this situation for years, ever since some manufacturers of equipment have begun implementing such exclusionary practices. It has resulted in a campaign among farmers called the “right to repair” movement, where farmers are fighting for the right to make repairs to the tractors and other instruments they bought and own.
The farmers claim that they lose money and time while waiting for these repair men to show up. Not only that, but they contend that if a tractor maker holds the sole right to repair, then the farmers don’t really even own their tractors despite paying tens of thousands for the vehicles.
As the truck drivers always say, so it is for the farmers: if the wheels ain’t turning, they ain’t earning. Not that the corporate types at John Deere, in defense of their “right” to bleed hardworking farmers like a deer tick on a hound with those exorbitantly priced “maintenance contracts” of theirs, give a discernible damn about that.
Now, however, the state of Colorado has become the first to give farmers the legal right to repair their equipment without being forced to pay for a manufacturer’s repair teams. That law was passed on Tuesday.
For their part, companies such as John Deere say that farming equipment is now so highly technical and computer-driven that repairs are often beyond the skill of barn tinkerers. Even more importantly, manufacturers say that if just anyone can start tearing down and rebuilding their high-tech machinery, their proprietary technology will be all too easily open for corporate theft.
Well, which is it, then? Are those slackjawed yokels too stupid to comprehend all that tech, or are those sharpie-farmers looking to inflate their incomes via some sophisticated reverse-engineering and corporate espionage?
For what it may be worth, my Uncle Gene flatly refused to own anything his whole life but a Deere…right up until his last one, which he spent a lot more time cussing and spitting at than actually riding the piece of junk.
Manufacturers also say that allowing tractor owners to make any manner of repair also allows them to bypass emissions controls set by governments and to crank up horsepower or make other modifications that violate laws. This, they say, puts equipment operators at risk of injury, and in turn would unfairly place the manufacturers in a position to be sued for those injuries.
Ahhh, and there it is: the cold, dead hand of government. You knew it would figure into all this somehow. Now for a little compare-contrast.
“Forcing a business to disclose trade secrets, software, and jeopardize consumer safety is poor public policy,” said Colorado state Rep. Matt Soper, a Republican who opposed “right to repair” measures in the Centennial State.
The opposition was not enough to stall the legislation. Colorado’s Democrat Gov. Jared Polis happily signed the new bill into law last Tuesday, saying, “This bill will save farmers and ranchers time and money and support the free market in repair” before exclaiming, “first in the nation!’”
Against all odds and expectations, we’ve now reached the point where the GOPer argues for restricting the rights of hard-working American farmers to do what they wish with the property they nominally “own,” while the Democrat stands up for freedom, real ownership, independent repair shops, and non-interference with said rights. UNEXPECTED!™