Despite the misgivings expressed by certain farmers’ groups in the US, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) about the right to repair, which was initially negotiated between John Deere and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), is gaining support among manufacturers.

Since the announcement of the MOU in January, all the big players have signed up to a version of the document; these include Case New Holland, AGCO, Kubota and now Claas.

Together they hold around 75% of the US tractor market.

Time is critical on right to repair

Farmers’ groups have been seeking the right to repair on two practical considerations – the first is that of timeliness, as the nearest authorised dealer may be a day’s drive away; and the second is that the mechanic’s time has to be paid for while he is behind the wheel, leading to a big bill even before the tractor is fixed.

The MOU was widely seen by those active in pressing for the right to repair as an attempt at appeasement; a compromise to head off legislation that will require, by law, manufacturers to turn over all the necessary diagnostic tools to customers.

MOU John Deere right to repair
US farmers face big bills from dealers to cover travel costs alone

If so, the MOU has only been partially successful because the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), which campaigns for consumer rights in general, lists 30 US states that have either passed right to repair legislation or are actively considering doing so.

It should be noted that these laws do not apply just to agricultural equipment, it is more a case that farmers are benefitting from a movement that seeks to enable customers to repair all consumer goods, whether mechanical or electronic, without resorting to approved dealers.

Kubota, along with John Deere, AGCO and CNH have already signed similar agreements
Kubota, along with John Deere, AGCO and CNH have already signed similar agreements

So far it has been rather piecemeal with different states enacting legislation to cover different products.

Florida, for instance, has legislation specifically covering farm machinery while New Hampshire has only addressed home appliances.

Many of the proposed bills specifically exclude cars despite the motor trade being one of the most vociferous groups pressing for the right to repair in the US.

Who pays?

At the time of the launch of the John Deere MOU, one of the points that was left to be settled was the expense to the consumer of any diagnostic tools or manuals that they may require to carry out repairs, there was no schedule of costs, only the undertaking that they be fair and reasonable.

The cost is still not codified within the Claas MOU, but from the agreement it would appear that diagnostic software, technical manuals and special repair tools will become available through the dealers’ parts network and be subject to the same pricing structure.

The MOU also states that it applies to the machines irrespective of whether they are purchased or leased, which answers an earlier fear that because farmers do not enjoy ownership of leased machines, they would not be entitled to the same access to diagnostic software.

MOU to cover training

Claas has undertaken to provide access to the Claas Diagnostic System, either directly from the manufacturer or through its dealerships, and has further pledged to give training on the software and any other tools to both the customer and third party repair shops.

Claas CDS tractor
The MOU covers all Claas machines equipped with the Claas Diagnostic System (CDS)

One notable exemption in the Claas MOU does not allow “owners or Independent repair facilities to override safety features or emissions controls or to adjust agricultural equipment power levels”.

The MOUs being signed by the manufacturers are applicable only in North America and Puerto Rico; the EU has its own separate right to repair legislation.