Let’s face it. No compromise is going to be good enough for those who are demanding total access to the software that has been developed to make everything work together on today’s tractors. It’s an all or nothing deal. But you have to give the California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF), which represents farmers, and Far West Equipment Dealers Assn. (FWEDA), which represents dealers, credit for trying

In a nutshell, the CFBF and FWEDA pact says, “With the ‘right-to-repair’ agreement, equipment dealers commit to providing access to service manuals, product guides, on-board diagnostics and other information that would help a farmer or rancher to identify or repair problems with the machinery,” according to the FWEDA press release. It goes on to say, “The agreement includes restrictions. Among them: Source code for proprietary software would not be accessible, and owners would not be able to change equipment in ways that would affect compliance with safety or emissions regulations.”

Not good enough say those who insist everyone who purchases a tractor equipped with the hardware/software in question. The purchaser must have unfettered access to the equipment and systems. In response to the CFBR-FWEDA agreement, those on the other side of the table respond with an article titled “John Deere Just Swindled Farmers Out of Their Right to Repair.” 

The article is clearly labeled as “Opinion,” which is as it should be. If you read the piece, please also note the background of the primary author. That might give you reason to wonder if he’s truly a crusader for farmers or if there might be some self-interest involved. Come to think of it, he, and others demanding total access to technology developed by someone else have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. The manufacturers who invested in the development of the technology and the dealers who invested in the talent and tools needed to service the technology have much to lose and nothing to gain by simply turning it over to anyone and everyone who thinks they should have it.

From my perspective, I purchased and have installed on my home PC the Microsoft Office suite. I really dislike many of the “improvements” the company made to the version of Office on my home computer. I particularly hate what they did to PowerPoint. Should I have access to the software that would allow me to modify or repair it when I need or want to? Keep in mind I make my living by writing, editing, etc. So, my computer is absolutely essential to what I do to pay my bills. And I have deadlines to meet, which is why I’m writing this on Sunday morning. (By the way, Word has been giving me a lot of trouble lately!)

Of course, I’m not capable of doing any sort of modifications myself. But maybe my friendly neighborhood hacker, given access to all the codes and other stuff that goes into creating these programs, could fix it up for me the way I want it or repair it when it’s not working properly. This example may sound ridiculous to you, but it’s not to me.

Anyway, these types of circular arguments could go on forever with no resolution. The idea is to come to an accord that is mutually beneficial. This is obviously not good enough for those complaining the loudest.

Again, at least the CFBF and FWEDA are trying to work something out. This is a far more constructive approach than waging a verbal and political battle in the press and suggesting that manufacturers and dealers have somehow “swindled” their customers.