FTC Complaint Sparks Investigation into Deere’s Repair Restrictions

A Sign of Progress for the Right to Repair Movement

On Friday, the Capitol Forum’s Marcia Brown reported that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has opened an investigation into John Deere’s practices following a complaint filed by Farm Action and other advocacy groups. The complaint urges the FTC to investigate Deere’s abusive restrictions on tractor and other farm equipment repair, noting that they amount to “unfair and deceptive practices.”

The Biggest of the Big

Deere accounts for more than 50% of all sales of large tractors and combines in North America and made $6 billion in profits last year. The company keeps a tight grip on the software needed to diagnose and repair issues on its equipment. While Deere dominates the sales markets for new agricultural equipment and tractors, sales of its repair services are three to six times more profitable than its equipment sales. As if that weren’t enough, Deere is also a major lender for farmers, who often need to borrow heavily at the start of each growing season.

“These large companies have so much power in the market,” said Farm Action’s President Joe Maxwell in the piece from the Capitol Forum. “John Deere, to a lot of these farmers, is not just where they lease or buy a tractor or combine from but also where they get their credit.”

What Happens Next?

An FTC investigation would have the authority to subpoena Deere’s records and executives. In a successful outcome, the FTC would require Deere to lift its abusive restrictions, and farmers would be able to decide how and where to repair their equipment. The Farm Action team will stay focused on this developing issue and keep our supporters informed.