2017 - Volume #41, Issue #4, Page #05[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Farmers Fight For “Right To Repair”Farmers and mechanics are leading the fight for the “Right to Repair” equipment. Manufacturers, including leading farm equipment companies, are fighting to control access to diagnostic equipment and codes. Without diagnostics, today’s computer-controlled equipment can’t be repaired, and manufacturers can charge what they want with no competition. Even the U.S. Copyright Office stated in a June, 2017 report that it believes something has to be done.
“I think it is ridiculous that John Deere, Case IH, and the rest think their shops are the only game in town,” says farmer Danny Kluthe, Cambridge, Neb. “They won’t download software so that anyone else can repair their equipment. In the spring and fall when time is so valuable, we have to wait for their service person to come out. They not only have the exclusive right to charge what they want, but we’ll have downtime. If we could do diagnostics and discover that the problem is a solenoid or plugged filter, we could fix it ourselves.”
Kevin Kenney of Grassroots Energy, who is an engineer and mechanic in rural Nebraska, has been active in the battle to secure the right to repair. Legislation introduced there was backed by the Nebraska Farm Bureau, but by the time it was introduced, the opposition was well entrenched.
“The equipment dealers and manufacturers outweighed us in lobbying power,” says Kenney. “Deere threw $3 million into lobbying against Right to Repair here and elsewhere. It was dead before we started.”
While the Nebraska legislation went nowhere this year, Kenney, Kluthe and others in the state vow to keep fighting, and they are not alone. Legislation has also been introduced in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Kansas, North Carolina, Missouri and Wyoming.
“This entire platform of selling digital services is nothing other than monopoly construction,” says Kenney.
He points out that even students in ag engineering classes are unable to work on diagnostics software. “I find it sad that each year we graduate ag engineers unable to work on engine control units (ECU) for modern combines, tractors or implements,” says Kenney.
Recent reports of “Ukranian” software disks that could be used to hack Deere tractors for diagnostics are temporary fixes at best, warns Kenney.
“All Deere has to do is update its software, and the illegal software is worthless,” he says. “The newest tractors are 100 percent online so disks won’t work.”
Kenney says the only answer is a legislative one that ensures farmers and independent repair shops have the right to access diagnostics.
If you want to find out more, contact The Repair Association at www.repair.org. There you’ll find information on all legislation that has been introduced, authors and status.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Grassroots Energy Nebraska, Lincoln, Neb. (ph 402 646-0167; Facebook page: Grassroots Energy Nebraska) or Danny Kluthe, 2464 Cty. Rd. 17, Dodge, Neb. 68633 (ph 402 693-2833; firstname.lastname@example.org).
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