Home / News / Right-To-Repair advocates score a big win against John Deere. Is it enough? 

Right-To-Repair advocates score a big win against John Deere. Is it enough? 

Lucas Corbin reporter 

In his first year of office, President Biden signed an executive order encouraging the Federal Trades Commission to enforce current restrictions against manufacturers’ monopolies on complex product design in an effort to support the consumer movement. Activists have been advocating for right to repair laws nationwide for almost half a century, and, while Biden’s plan is a successful temporary solution, Congress must prioritize and pass laws regulating large corporations’ ability to trap buyers in order to strengthen consumer power. 

Biden’s mandate had the goal of enforcing antitrust laws to “combat the excessive concentrations of industry, the abuses of market power, and the harmful effects of monopoly and monopsony,” specifically targeted at agricultural, healthcare, and labor markets in an attempt to promote competition and boost the economy.  

Since its enactment in 2021, the FTC has filed three right to repair complaints for violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975. Those companies are Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Weber-Stephen Products, and MWE Investments for implementing policies that would void a customer’s warranty when using third-party parts or independent repairers. 

For advocates, the biggest win occurred earlier this month as John Deere, one of the largest opponents of right to work legislation in state legislatures and has refused service to customers that speak out against some of the company’s practices, signed a memorandum of understanding with the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) that will protect the company’s intellectual property rights while also granting farmers and technicians access to the company’s manuals, software, and other information needed to repair their damaged equipment. 

“If farmers are out in the field and there is weather threatening, if there is a storm coming and their tractor breaks down, [a] two, three days wait for a manufacturer technician is simply not an option,” Kevin O’Reilly, head of the Public Interest Research Group, told the Kansas City Public Radio, echoing the problems faced by both independent repair shops and technology literate consumers.  

While farmers may not always have the necessary tools to fix their machines, they deserve to have the ability to obtain them with ease. 

In recent years, tech giant Apple has attempted to support third-party repair shops by allowing its product users to order parts and self-repair kits. The repair program still requires users to use pre-approved parts, and the company has no plans to reduce its highly criticized encoding procedures, which require replacement parts and software to connect and verify its origin before unlocking full functionality, thus locking users in the Apple ecosystem. 

John Bumstead, owner of RDKL, Inc, a Mac refurbishing shop in Minneapolis, MN., and longtime right-to-repair advocate has first-hand experience at the lack of accessibility. 

 “They make it super hard for refurbishers to get the product from recyclers… They add a lot of administrative red tape and sort of nonsense labor.” 

As the European Union strengthens its regulations on smartphone manufacturers, Apple may soon be forced to greatly reduce its firm grasp on the market. The EU has successfully pressured the company into using a USB-C connection to charge its iPhones by 2025, citing concerns of excessive e-waste from the California-based company. 

Being vital to the economy, repair jobs cannot be outsourced. To support small business owners, individual consumers, and American jobs, local and federal officials must ensure our right to repair our personally owned products by enacting and enforcing meaningful antitrust laws while supporting anti-monopoly measures.  

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