SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A major new announcement from John Deere this weekend as the leading ag equipment manufacturer came to an agreement with the American Farm Bureau Federation, formally allowing farmers to repair their own equipment.

“This modern machinery we have now is a lot of times, well most of the time it’s a lot of computers on a given machine,” Scott VanderWal, the President of the South Dakota Farm Bureau and Vice President of the American Farm Bureau said.

That means fixing an issue may no longer mean just looking under the hood, but increasingly more often means hooking up a computer to diagnose the problem.

“A lot of times it’s a sensor that cost $150 or so, you put it in and you’re going again,” VanderWal said.

But the problem many farmers have been running into for years is not being able to fix the issue on their own.

“If it was a highly technical thing where you had to have a computer to diagnose it, that is something John Deere was keeping proprietary, and farmers were not able to do it, if repair shops didn’t have access to that software, they couldn’t do it either,” VanderWal said.

And during peak busy seasons for farmers, the wait to access those dealership technicians could delay their farm operations for days.

“It got to the point where dealers were backed up so much in their service departments many times it would take many hours or even days before they could come out and determine what the problem was,” VanderWal said.

That’s why the American Farm Bureau Federation spent the past few years negotiating with John Deere for an agreement to allow farmers and independent repair shops to use the software on their own.

“It should decrease repair costs and make it more efficient where you can do it almost immediately instead of waiting for a technician to come,” VanderWal said.

The American Farm Bureau Federation signed the memorandum agreement with John Deere on Sunday at their national convention in Puerto Rico, what they hope will become a template for future agreements with other major manufacturers.

“There’s a lot of states that have been very concerned about the issue from the standpoint that it’s going to keep on getting worse, as our machinery becomes more electronic and more sophisticated,” VanderWal said. “We’re very proud to have done this for American agriculture and our farmers and ranchers.”

So what does this news mean for John Deere Dealerships across KELOLAND?

C&B owns 38 dealerships across the country, including many in KELOLAND. The company says this announcement won’t change much at their operations, but rather reinforces what they’ve already been doing.

“Customer Service Advisor has been for sale to customers before this announcement,” Kyle Patten, C&B’s Vice President of aftermarket operations said. 

C&B Dealerships have already been selling John Deere customer service advisor technology to producers for years; the company says this national agreement just reiterates the manufacturers commitment to openness and what customers can and can’t do with their equipment.

“While we support producers right to repair, we absolutely do not support any tampering of emissions style equipment or tampering of source code. You think about if it were a completely open-source network, and a lot of safety mechanism built in from the factory, if those types of things start getting modified there’s a lot of concern over the safety aspect of machinery being out in the field or going down the road,” Patten said. 

Farm Bureau agrees and made sure this new national agreement with John Deere does not give producers the right to make any kind of modification to their equipment.