As I wrote last week, the California Farm Bureau (which lobbies for the state's farmers) struck a deal to gut the state's Right to Repair legislation, a move that will cost farmers their right to fix their own tractors and other heavy equipment.
Kyle Wiens from iFixit and the Repair Coalition and Elizabeth Chamberlain have the detailed story in Wired, explaining how the Farm Bureau spun the story to make it look like they'd gotten John Deere to make a bunch of concessions, when in reality Deere had already made those concessions, nationwide.
Where California farmers go, the rest of America follows—and in this case, that's dangerous. The state produces more food by far than any other in the nation, accounting for two-thirds of all US-grown fruit and nuts. By agreeing to the spurious distinction between "repair" and "modification," the California Farm Bureau just made the EFF's job a lot harder. Instead of presenting a unified right-to-repair front, this milquetoast agreement muddies the conversation. More worryingly, it could cement a cultural precedent for electronics manufacturers who want to block third-party repair technicians from accessing a device's software.
As a nation of repair advocates, we need to reject toothless deals like this. We must define right to repair in a way that supports the needs of individuals and small growers, not the bottom line of enormous corporations.
This deal is no right-to-repair victory. Don't let John Deere—or the California Farm Bureau—call it one. Real progress isn't going to come until a state passes real Right to Repair legislation. And momentum is building. Twenty states, including Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska, considered bills this year. Although none have passed yet, John Deere is clearly feeling the heat.
John Deere Just Cost Farmers Their Right to Repair [Kyle Wiens and Elizabeth Chamberlain/Wired]