Farm Action submitted a public comment on Friday requesting that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) initiate a rulemaking process on consumers’ right to repair. Farm Action’s comment explored the anticompetitive nature of repair restrictions “in the context of the harms inflicted by consolidated farm equipment manufacturers on farmers, independent farm equipment repair shops, and rural economies.”
Farm Action’s comment illustrated how farm equipment manufacturers use repair restrictions to extend their excessive market power over the original equipment manufacture market to the repair market. The comment was submitted in support of a petition, put forth by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund (U.S. PIRG) and iFixit, calling for a rulemaking under Section 5 of the FTC Act.
“FTC has the authority and the responsibility to regulate this conduct under existing antitrust law,” Farm Action’s comment said. After documenting how repair restrictions violate Section 5, the comment stated that the conduct of farm equipment manufacturers like John Deere, “is clearly coercive, exploitative, and abusive.”
“[M]anufacturers put farmers in [an] impossible position — wait days or even weeks to have the equipment repaired at any cost because of the control the equipment manufacturer has over the repair business, or replace an otherwise-functioning and costly asset,” the comment said.
“By preventing anyone but authorized dealerships from working on the equipment, equipment manufacturers are also obstructing independent competitors’ access to the market for aftermarket repairs,” the comment continued. “This has led to the widespread shuttering of independent repair shops in rural communities, dealing an additional blow to economies already decimated by decades of concentration and disinvestment.
Noting FTC’s recent commitment to enforcing violations under Section 5 as expressed in its November 2022 policy statement, Farm Action said, “we are respectfully encouraging the Commission to act in accordance with its founding statutes and carry out its publicly-expressed intention to exercise its authority against unfair conduct.”
Media Contact: Dee Laninga, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-450-0094