It’s been 7 years since Farm Equipment first covered the right to repair movement (R2R) and what it would mean for dealers. In that time, state and provincial legislation has been introduced across the U.S. and Canada, lawsuits have been filed and an executive order has been issued by President Biden. Over the years, bills have passed certain arms of state government — most recently the Colorado House of Representatives and Senate passed House Bill 1011. So far none of these bills have become law, largely due to dealers lobbying and testifying efforts. A big sticking point on the Colorado bill was that only Deere had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU). That’s no longer the case.

As of March 9, 2023, John Deere, Case IH and New Holland had all signed a MOU with the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) over R2R. Kubota has confirmed that while no conversations have taken place, they are considering a similar MOU. These MOUs are a step in the right direction to settle the issue without legislation.

Similar to the understanding with Deere, the latest MOU — between AFBF and CNH — sets a framework for farmers and independent repair facilities in all 50 U.S. states and Puerto Rico to access CNH Industrial brand manuals, tools, product guides and information to self-diagnose and self-repair, as well as support to directly purchase diagnostic tools and order parts.

“The tools R2R advocates are seeking already are — and have been — available for purchase…” – Kim Schmidt

The MOU respects intellectual property rights and recognizes the need to ensure safety controls and emission systems aren’t altered. CNHI and AFBF will meet semiannually to review the agreement and address ongoing concerns.

Making Tools Available 

The tools R2R advocates are seeking already are — and have been — available for purchase. What are we trying to legislate? Dealers and the manufacturers have been working jointly for years to educate their customers and partners about how to get the tools they need. I picked 4 dealer websites — an AGCO, Case IH, New Holland and Deere dealer — and quickly found the “self-repair” section on each. All  clearly stated the options for customers to purchase or rent the diagnostic tools and manuals on which this whole R2R debate is centered. Dealers are already opening the door to customers doing this work themselves.

Safety & Liability Still Big Concerns 

Safety is a big part of the concern as well. If a customer buys a piece of used equipment and, unbeknownst to them, the previous owner altered it in some way, there’s a safety risk and a question of liability. Injury or death from equipment is a risk that need not be compounded.

“If you have all these people buying this very expensive machinery and redoing all of the coding that runs that machinery, how do you value a trade-in when you want to trade it?” asks Kim Rominger, president & CEO of the North American Equipment Dealers Assn. “The trade value is going to decrease immensely because if it does go into changing air quality pieces or systems, the dealer is obligated to return that back to its manufactured criteria or specifications to meet EPA regulations.”

Colorado State Rep. Richard Holtorf — a long-time Colorado Farm Bureau member — recently came to the defense of dealers and the OEMs (specifically Deere) in a March 11, 2023, column in the Fort Morgan Times. Holtorf wrote, “In the House Ag Committee, John Deere was continually thrown under the bus by the bill sponsors and others who testified, which was unfortunate and unfair. The truth is that John Deere offers a customer service advisor program, which is a web application-based program with a cost starting at $2,700 for operators and technicians. 

“Dealers are already opening the door to customers doing this work themselves…”

“Independent technicians can have access to technical manuals, operator’s manuals, diagnostic codes and other important digital-based applications that are used by service technicians, used on a computer, tablet or smartphone. This app has more than 14,500 models of equipment from construction, agriculture, turf and utility equipment and more.”

Holtorf doesn’t necessarily argue against independent repairs, but he doesn’t think legislation is the right route. The bigger problem, he says, is the technician shortage. 

I’m not arguing against — nor are any dealers that I am aware of — customers having access to the tools they need to repair their own equipment. But they already have that access. With the shortage of qualified technicians (and scarcity in the pipeline), dealers cannot keep up with the demand should each of the 2 million farmers in the U.S. go to their OEM dealership for service.

I’ve heard and read the arguments that the cost of the diagnostic tools from the OEM is too high. A rapid Google search took me to the Deere online shop and the MyCNHiStore where the software licenses and tools were available to purchase. Both also gave me the option to connect me to my nearest dealer to buy from them (read more at The tools and subscriptions aren’t cheap, that’s true. Are they cost prohibitive? Hardly. These are business tools that a farmer — or any business — can choose as a  business investments.

“We need every ag implement dealer and service department in every town in rural Colorado to stay healthy and vibrant and not close their doors. This particular bill could do more harm than good as government and consumer rights advocates leveraging the heavy-hand of the government try to help ‘fix’ agriculture’s repair problem,” writes Holtorf. 

Agreed. Let’s extend that sentiment to all of North America.    

Read the Farm Equipment's Editors Debate Right to Repair

Read the Farmer Viewpoint

Related Content:

  • Right-to-Repair Battle Heats Up: R2R is a controversial topic we felt needed extensive coverage and a subject that the general ag media doesn’t appear to have the courage to report on due to worries about picking sides with the big equipment makers and their advertising budgets. Frank Lessiter breaks down the controversy in this staff column. Read more...
  • Growers Speak Up on Right-to-Repair Concerns: The content that follows presents a unique vantage point in all of agricultural media. Here, the content leaders of the two divisions – and on each side of the chasm – express their respective audience’s arguments on this R2R debate. Read more...