The MOU follows similar agreements AFBF entered with John Deere, CNH Industrial Brands (which includes Case IH and New Holland), AGCO, and Kubota. The five MOUs cover approximately three-quarters of the agricultural machinery sold in the United States.
“The memorandum of understanding with CLAAS demonstrates AFBF’s continued commitment to ensure farmers have access to the tools they need to keep their farms running, and America’s families fed,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Farmers and ranchers are more dependent on technology than ever before and they asked us to find a private-sector solution to the right-to-repair issue. This agreement is another step toward guaranteeing timely repairs for farmers regardless of the equipment they use.”
Eric Raby, senior vice president, Americas, for CLAAS said, “CLAAS is delivering on our continuing promise to provide solutions that improve our customers’ businesses, as their success and our success go hand in hand. We are pleased to announce our MOU with AFBF solidifying for farmers the right to repair.”
The agreement creates a framework for farmers and independent repair facilities in all 50 states and Puerto Rico to access technical manuals, tools, and product guides to self-diagnose and self-repair machines while respecting intellectual property and legislated legal requirements of the manufacturer. It also reconfirms the ability to lease diagnostic tools, and purchase products and parts from CLAAS dealers.
The Colorado Legislature became the first state to pass a bill addressing farmers’ right to repair. HB23-1011 garnered bipartisan support. Other states are attempting to follow suit.
It’s no minor issue. A report released by the nonprofit U.S. PIRG Education Fund earlier this year estimated that U.S. farmers lose $3 billion to tractor downtime and pay an additional $1.2 billion in excess repair costs each year.
Modern agricultural equipment is engineered to restrict repair access, often locking out farmers and independent mechanics. That forces farmers to turn to expensive dealer technicians for many fixes. Analysis of U.S. Department of Agriculture data shows that repair costs for farmers growing corn and soybean have nearly doubled over the past two decades.
Lack of access to independent repair can also lead to weeks or months of equipment downtime, during which farmers can lose their part or all of their crop, which can be even costlier.