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Right to Repair Addressed by Association of Equipment Manufacturers, Equipment Dealers Association

Manufacturers, dealers, and their customers share the same goal when it comes to farm machinery: ensuring it performs to everyone’s highest expectations and that repair and maintenance can be made safely and efficiently.

That’s why the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) and the Equipment Dealers Association (EDA) have developed a Statement of Principles that will provide the tools farmers and ranchers need to minimize downtime and to maximize productivity of farm equipment.

“End users want and need the tools to be able to perform basic service maintenance and repairs on their farm equipment,” says AEM President Dennis Slater. “AEM’s Ag Sector Board and EDA have joined forces to make a series of diagnostic and repair tools available to end users of tractors and combines put into service by 2021.”

Manufacturers will make available, through authorized dealers, the following diagnostic and repair information beginning with tractors and combines put into service on or after January 1, 2021:

  • Operator, parts and service manuals  
  • Product guides  
  • Product service demonstrations
  • Training and seminars 
  • On-board diagnostic tools (via in-cab display or telematics interface) 
  • Electronic diagnostic service tools  
  • Other service, parts, operation, and safety publications 

“These tools will empower farmers and ranchers to perform basic service and maintenance on their equipment, minimize downtime, and maximize productivity,” adds Slater. “It will also help end users easily determine whether they need to involve their dealer to address more complex repairs.”

For example, if you are out in the field and the computer on your tractor throws an error code, the diagnostic tool will be able to help you determine if it’s an easy fix you can handle or if it requires the assistance of a dealer. 

EDA President Kim Rominger says its members, who are farm equipment dealers, work daily to manage an important balancing act. 

“They want to empower their customers to perform everyday maintenance and repairs of their equipment but must also educate them on the types of issues that require an extensively trained technician,” he says. 

In both instances, the goal is to get the end user up and running as quickly as possible with as little cost as possible while ensuring that the safety and emissions components of the piece of equipment remain intact.

“To help minimize downtime and maximize efficiency, manufacturers and dealers are committing to supply end users of combines and tractors with additional diagnostic tools over and above what is already available,” he says. 

Right to Repair Not Right to Modify

Slater stresses that while equipment manufacturers believe in the end users’ right to repair their equipment, the right to repair is not the right to modify. 

“Manufacturers invest considerable resources in developing software that has revolutionized farm equipment. These innovations have made combines and tractors safer, more productive, and more sustainable than ever. Allowing access to the underlying software on farm equipment will risk the machinery’s compliance with laws governing emissions and safety and will undercut the resources manufacturers invest in developing the best possible products for their customers,” he says. 

The industry commitment AEM and EDA are making provides the right balance of access to information while protecting end users from unnecessary risks. 

“While we want end users to be able to maintain and repair their equipment, it is critical to understand the difference between a repair and a modification,” says Rominger. “Modifications to sensitive software technology not only risk compliance with emissions and safety laws but also open the door to additional liability concerns when it comes to equipment that has been modified unbeknownst to the dealer and is then traded and sold.”

AEM’s Nick Tindall adds that there are already many companies providing service information to customers on older model tractors and combines.

“Many of them also have electronic diagnostic tools of various forms,” he says. “This announcement is setting the guidelines moving forward, and it will be up to the individual companies and dealers on how to provide this service information to meet their specific customer needs.”

Striking A Balance Without Legislation 

“The fact is the commitment we are making today is a commonsense solution that responds to the needs of our customers and end users. The commitment manufacturers are announcing strikes the right balance in the way Right to Repair legislation would not,” says Slater.

Those legislative proposals, he continues, are not about empowering farmers and ranchers. “They are driven by special interest groups who want to access the software code so they can line their own pockets.”

Rominger adds, “It is our hope that our industry commitment obviates the need for legislation on this issue and delivers a solution that empowers end users.”

Manufacturers and dealers have opposed Right to Repair proposals in various state legislatures because of concerns that the broad terms of those proposals would risk machinery’s compliance with safety and environmental regulations, and would undercut the investments manufacturers make in developing onboard software. The two associations will continue to oppose overly broad legislation that would grant access to source code onboard farm equipment.

Read more about AEM and EDA’s commitment to customers, learn about their Right to Repair legislation, and view a short video that explains the implications of their commitment in greater detail at r2rsolutions.org.

About the AEM Ag Sector Board.  The mission of the Ag Sector Board is to provide the strategic and operational direction for the agriculture equipment sector of AEM, serving as the advocate for ag members in the Association. The Sector Board, which is consists of 20 top or high-level executives from member companies, approved the Statement of Principles. 

A full list of company representatives who sit on AEM’s Ag Sector Board can be found at aem.org/about-aem/board-of-directors/#/ag-sector.

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