MOLINE, Ill. (AP) — Equipment manufacturer John Deere and the American Farm Bureau Federation have signed a memorandum of understanding that ensures farmers and ranchers have the right to repair their own farm equipment.

The memorandum of understanding, signed Sunday at the federation's convention in San Juan, Puerto Rico, follows several years of discussions between the two sides, they said in a news release.

The agreement, said federation President Zippy Duvall, ”addresses a long-running issue for farmers and ranchers when it comes to accessing tools, information and resources, while protecting John Deere’s intellectual property rights and ensuring equipment safety.”

“A piece of equipment is a major investment. Farmers must have the freedom to choose where equipment is repaired, or to repair it themselves, to help control costs," Duvall said.

The agreement “commits John Deere to ensuring farmers and independent repair facilities have access to many of the tools and software needed” to keep the equipment running, Duvall said.

David Gilmore, John Deere's senior vice president for farm and turf sales and marketing, said the agreement reaffirms the company's "longstanding commitment ... to ensure our customers have the diagnostic tools and information they need to make many repairs to their machines."

John Deere commits to engaging with farmers and dealers to resolve issues when they arise and agrees to meet with the farm bureau federation at least twice per year to evaluate progress, the agreement said.

The agreement formalizes farmers’ access to diagnostic and repair codes and to operator, parts and service manuals and product guides, the news release said. It also ensures farmers will be able to purchase diagnostic tools directly from John Deere and receive assistance from the manufacturer when ordering parts and products.

Chad Hart, an economist at Iowa State University, said he sees the memorandum of understanding as a “first step” between the two sides.

“This represents an ongoing negotiation,” Hart said, noting the agreement calls for the two to talk every six months.

“They expect fully they're going to have to make adjustments along the way,” he said.

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