Alabama farmers disagree with manufacturers over right to repair tech-driven equipment

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(AP Photo / Nati Harnik, file)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) – Alabama is home to a robust agricultural industry, but lately many of these farmers are feeling their hands tied when it comes to fixing their newer, more tech-driven equipment.

These farmers discovered that what they owned did not necessarily belong to them.

“If we had the diagnostic equipment we might need help fixing it, but we could figure out what it was and get the parts in,” Farmer Shep Morris said.

Morris runs Morris & Morris Farms. He and his family cultivate nearly 4,000 acres of corn, cotton and sesame. And they need big machines to do the job, like his $ 850,000 cotton picker.

“This picker basically replaced two harvesters, two buggies and two module builders,” he said.

But with so much computer hardware, farmers like Morris ran into a problem. Morris said John Deere retains sole control of most on-board computer systems and will only allow a John Deere certified dealership mechanic to perform diagnostic testing and make repairs.

“Cost is one thing, but speed is the most important thing,” he said. “We have a very good mechanic here and he does a great job, but his boat is loaded.”

The problem has prompted lawmakers across the country to push for so-called “right to repair” laws, but with little success. Alabama Agriculture and Industries Commissioner Rick Pate agrees this is an issue that must be addressed.

“There are a lot of laws that show this to be a violation of anti-trust laws. I think if people spend that kind of money on equipment, they own it. It’s a pretty straightforward leap to say they won’t be able to fix it, ”said Pate.

We reached out to John Deere to comment on this story. Their PR department referred us to a statement about their website and LinkedIn page.

The statement on their website read:

“Our customers need reliable equipment and minimal downtime. We are here to help you.

“For decades, John Deere has supported customers’ ability to maintain, diagnose and repair their equipment. John Deere is the industry leader in providing detailed product information, software solutions and parts needed by owners to keep their machines running.

“When customers buy from John Deere, they own the equipment and can choose to personally service or repair the product. When our customers need help, hundreds of Deere dealers and thousands of Deere Certified Technicians across the country are ready to help – in person, on site or remotely.

“We take the health and safety of our customers and the environment seriously. That’s why we design our equipment to the highest technical and environmental standards, using advanced software that makes every user more productive. We do not tolerate the modification of our machines from their engineering standards, which may present a risk not only to the current owner and his employees, but also to other equipment operators, future owners, dealers. John Deere and the environment.

“Our success only comes when our customers take a leap forward. For additional questions about our property and repair resources, contact your Local John Deere. “



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