AEM Talks Right to Repair at #FarmProgressShow

Cindy Zimmerman

As the farmer’s “right to repair” farm equipment has become a headline story even in mainstream media, manufacturers are trying to get the facts out to dispel the hype.

fps-16-aem-nickAt the Farm Progress Show, representatives from the Equipment Dealers Association (EDA), the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), and the Iowa-Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association (INEDA) held a press briefing to talk about the issue.

AEM Senior Director of Government and Industry Relations Nick Tindall says proponents of right-to-repair are spreading the myth that farmers can’t even change the oil in their own equipment. “Farmers today can do the vast majority of what they need to do on the farm,” said Tindall. “They own their machines and they can work on them.”

To an extent, that is. “To where there are a few instances – and we’re talking about computer codes mainly – where it is restricted, a lot of it has to do with the Environmental Protection Agency and emissions standards,” said Tindall. “It’s the law and we can get in some serious trouble if our equipment doesn’t meet it and our dealers can get in some serious trouble, even if a third party makes a modification to it.”

The other important issue to consider is proprietary coding. “Because in today’s equipment, that’s where all the research dollars are,” Tindall explained. “It’s extraordinarily technical work that requires dealers to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in training and equipment to keep up with the standards.”

Learn more in this interview: Interview with Nick Tindall, AEM

2016 Farm Progress Show Photos

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Comments 4

  1. My name is Gay Gordon-Byrne and I am the Executive Director of We are “The” organization behind Fair Repair / Digital Right to Repair legislation under consideration in 4 states, including Nebraska.

    Since we weren’t contacted for discussion or questions (bad journalist ethics), I’ll rebut some of the fear-mongering in this format.

    AEM is sadly passing along a great deal of mis-information. Copies of the actual legislation are readily available for all to read (google “Nebraska LB1072”) and readers will immediately note that Right to Repair / Fair Repair does nothing to interfere with the proprietary rights of manufacturers.

    Despite AEM fears, there is no impact on copyrights, patents, or trade secrets. States cannot preempt federal laws and regulations and that is why Right to Repair cannot including tinkering or modification of software. Software changes fall under Copyright Law — which is not changed by Right to Repair.

    AEM has failed to mention that tinkering with software (emissions included) has been exempted from Copyright Law starting October 31, 2016. The USCO requirements are very clear that changes to emissions much remain in compliance with all federal and EPA laws.

    Under Right to Repair, buyers and sellers will have less difficulty restoring equipment firmware to the original settings than is currently the case. Car enthusiasts have been tinkering with their engines and emissions for decades and not created new problems for used car trading. Just reset the original firmware. Its not mysterious unless the manufacturer makes it so.

    Right to Repair / Fair Repair legislation follows the already nationally Automotive and Commercial Truck Right to Repair Agreements covering the computerized functions of equipment generally. During the legislative fight against Automotive Right to Repair — every one of the same objections was made, including safety and liability — and was solidly rejected. Statute in Massachusetts has not resulted in a cascade of litigation — and consumers have seen enormous improvements in their access to repairs as a result.

    Right to Repair / Fair Repair legislation requires manufacturers of products with digital electronic parts to provide fair and reasonable access to the information and materials necessary for independent repair. These materials already exist as they are the tools that manufacturers created so that products can be repaired in the first place.

    For further information and discussion, please contact me directly at .

    Gay Gordon-Byrne Executive Director, The Repair Association

    1. Post

      Hi Gay – thanks for your comment to provide your side of the issue. This story was only about the briefing given at the FPS for media and retailers and only was intended to give their viewpoint.

  2. I will take some issue with this gentleman’s comments on the access to the technology on their equipment. There are thousands of highly trained technicians that are no longer employed at one of the big three or four farm equipment dealerships. They are more than qualified to perform diagnostics and repair to any of the systems on these newer machines. In the automotive world and in the over-the-road truck world, these independent shops can purchase all of the necessary software to perform accurate diagnostics. This is not available in the ag equipment world. No one has the desire to circumvent the EPA rules. We just want to have the same ability to diagnose and repair what we own.

  3. Mr. Tindall,

    My name is Kevin Kenney and I suspect you may have been referring to me when speaking about a “Small Company that wants to tamper with diesel engines to run on natural gas”

    My company holds and has a Clean Diesel Technology U.S. Patent (#8826888) which in a letter wrote referring to this technology by the head of USDA’s National Leader of Biofuels, Dr. Robert Fireovid, called ‘Game Changing Technology’ for diesel engines. Using shale gasses like Propane and Natural Gas (CNG) is enormously practical, locally available, and burn cleaner that ordinary diesel. Compliance with EPA Tier 4 emissions is more easily achievable with these fuels…and exponentially less expensive!

    Running Propane/CNG is not ‘tampering’ to defeat EPA standards. Modifying a tractor to be optimized to run on Propane/CNG requires tuning & diagnostic software….your member companies know this and have exclusively distributed this software ONLY to your dealerships. They also know that both the automobile and commercial truck industries have already agreed to provide such information to their customers.

    Emission systems sold on new tractors are not mandated by law; you guys build them to meet EPA’s mandated standards; The EPA’s guidance document says, “EPA will not consider any modification to a certified emissions control configuration to be a violation of the tampering prohibition if there is a reasonable basis for knowing that emissions are not adversely affected”.

    This is not new. The WW1 Generation built large diesel engines 75 years ago across most of the small towns in Nebraska for electrical power generation (local power plants) that ran on 95% natural gas & only 5% diesel. The companies in your organization know this & how to do this…they simply refuse to offer flexible fuel ag equipment that uses ‘Shale Gases’ like Propane & Nat Gas. Today there are no meaningful Propane Tractors/Combines sold today, but many sold in the ‘60s-‘70s that are STILL running.

    I dispute that we are “Fear Mongering” about right to repair. Farmers do want to change their own tires and oil, and they also want to diagnose and repair their equipment using the same tools and diagnostics that are currently only available to the dealership. Farmers are not happy to pay $100+ per hour for someone to plug in a diagnostic tool in order to read the error code. I sense you’re worried about the ‘Fair Repair Act’ (LB1072) being enacted by the Nebraska Unicameral…as you should be.

    -Kevin Kenney
    Grassroots Energy Nebraska
    Lincoln, Ne

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