The president is asking the FTC to help farmers with the right to repair
By Diego Flammini
President Biden will issue an executive order Friday which could have implications on the farm equipment sector.
Among the 72 initiatives outlined in the order is a request to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The president is encouraging the FTC to “limit powerful equipment manufacturers from restricting people’s ability to use independent repair shops or do DIY repairs—such as when tractor companies block farmers from repairing their own tractors.”
The executive order also applies to cell phone manufacturers and is meant to increase competition in multiple U.S. industries overall.
Farm equipment manufacturers support the right to repair to a certain extent.
Manufacturers like John Deere already provide customers with tools, guides and other resources to repair equipment.
But providing access to source codes isn’t an avenue they’re willing to explore.
John Deere “leads our industry in providing repair tools, spare parts, information guides, training videos and manuals needed to work on our machines,” a company spokesperson told Wired.
The manufacturer is against the right to modify codes “due to risks associated with the safe operation of the equipment,” the spokesperson added.
Groups representing farm equipment manufacturers agree.
The embedded source codes need to be protected, said Stephanie See, director of state government relations with the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.
“There’s a difference between repairing equipment and tampering with it,” she told Farms.com in a March 2020 interview. “By tampering we mean (changing source codes) to defeat emissions control or safety controls.”
Farms.com has contacted equipment groups and farmer organizations for comment.