Right to Repair
New Farmer Challenges Series: part 1
The percentage of farmers in the United States has dropped to three. Three percent of the population farm, and that number is decreasing. One of the biggest challenges new farmers face is cost.
New equipment costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. John Deere, a household name and farm equipment giant, began adding computers and sensors to tractors to create a more comfortable environment for those who operate the machines.
This was effective, new tractors house heat, air conditioning, Bluetooth, and GPS units that keep the tractor in a straight line. New tractor operators sit in comfort and wait for the edge of the field, then turn around and continue sitting in comfort.
These tractors and all of their bells and whistles come with a cost beyond the initial purchase price.
The creature comforts add a new level of complication to machines that are already complicated, and when one part or sensor breaks, farmers can’t fix it themselves. Instead, they’re forced to call for John Deere service techs to come to the tractor and assess the issue with a computer that only the dealer has access to.
On top of the service call and assessment, farmers are stuck with the bill to actually fix the tractor, which must also be done through the dealer.
At least this was the case before John Deere lost their right to repair lawsuit and made the necessary computer available for purchase in May of 2022.
Even with access to the necessary technology, It’s difficult for small farmers to make payments on and maintain equipment necessary for farm work, so instead of buying shiny new equipment, farmers are searching high and low for equipment that pre-dates the age of computers.
Tractors from the 70’s, like the John Deere 40 series, provides creature comforts like heat, AC and even radio, without overcomplicating anything on the tractor. These machines are easy to repair and parts are readily available from both the dealer and third parties, making repair costs significantly less expensive.