Farmers operating John Deere tractors have been fighting against John Deere's repair monopoly for years. Device manufacturers don't want people repairing their own stuff and they've taken pains to make it difficult to do so. Newer John Deere equipment comes loaded with software and firmware that make it impossible for farmers to fix their own equipment. Instead, they have to call an authorized dealer and wait for them to show up -- a fix that's too slow and too costly for a farmer.

Why even buy a tractor (or other equipment) if you have this problem? I have not heard about this problem in EU, Canada and so on. Is this unique to America? Hence my question, why do American famers even buy tractors from John Deere?

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    The EU recently passed a law or regulation on right to repair stuff. While tractors were probably not a top reason, there are similar issues in the EU, or any industrialized country. There are similar laws in at least some US states fastcompany.com/40518779/… The devil is usually in the details with such laws. – Fizz Mar 29 '19 at 7:32
  • How will you effectively farm on large scales without them? – Obie 2.0 Mar 29 '19 at 8:01
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    @Obie2.0 There are other brands that may be more repair friendly. – liftarn Mar 29 '19 at 8:03
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    I am not sure if this is really a question for experts in politics. Which brand of tractor to buy and why would be a question which needs to be answered by experts in agriculture. Unfortunately there is no agriculture stack exchange. – Philipp Mar 29 '19 at 9:22
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    There's a strongly political element to it though Philipp, which is why I answered below. There was a long fight to force companies to open up the specs of their phones (which consumers won), currently one going on to do the same for motor vehicles, and this is a small subset of that. The question wasn't worded as a political question, but the underpinnings definitely are. – AHamilton Mar 29 '19 at 11:11

It required drilling down into these articles several layers (about 12) to find the relevant information.

First, the issue they complain about above only applies if the repair is with the computer itself. If the issue is mechanical, you're more than welcome to fix it, or have someone else fix it.

John Deere is claiming that to "hack" the software locks would allow people to reverse engineer their proprietary software, which has been held to be true for other digital software, such as online games and tax software.

This is very similar to the fight over "Right to Repair" for motor vehicles, which would force car manufacturers to release all of the same information to anyone who wants to purchase it, as they do to their own, licensed service facilities. (This is a state issue, so that is broadly generalized as what the proposed laws actually require is different between states.)


Slash Dot and Wired seem to be all over this, but their coverage appears to me, at least, to be a tad alarmist.

But a big California farmers’ lobbying group just blithely signed away farmers’ right to access or modify the source code of any farm equipment software.

In 2018 California has proposed legislation for Right to Repair and a lobbyist group agreed to the following exemptions: Right to repair concession


It is worth noting, for full disclosure, that the Clean Air Act actually requires electronic emissions monitoring and diagnostics for motor vehicles, so for cars, motorcycles, and buses at least, the option of just going to a car manufacturer that doesn't make onboard computers doesn't exist in the US.


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