(Bloomberg) - Deere & Co. reached a deal with an agriculture industry lobbying group to allow farmers and ranchers to repair their own equipment, a step toward resolving a long-running dispute between the company and its customers as tractors and other tools of the trade become increasingly modern.
The agreement with the American Farm Bureau Federation, signed at the agriculture lobbying group’s convention in Puerto Rico Monday, ensures that farmers get access to diagnostic and repair codes as well as manuals and product guides, according to a joint statement. It also allows farmers to buy tools directly from Deere and get assistance from the company when ordering products.
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Farmers have long campaigned for the right to repair their own equipment as the technology has become increasingly complex. The company has maintained it needs to control access to its software to ensure that its products operate safely and protect its intellectual property.
A study by the Public Interest Research Group last year found that Deere, which has 53% of the US large tractor market, has just one authorized dealership chain for every 12,018 farms and every 5.3 million acres of American farmland, according to PIRG.
“A piece of equipment is a major investment,” federation president Zippy Duvall said in a statement. “Farmers must have the freedom to choose where equipment is repaired, or to repair it themselves, to help control costs.”