A Wisconsin no-till farmer says allowing farmers to repair their own equipment could be a solution to ag equipment dealerships' technician shortages.
Jim Leverich, who no-tills around 1,000 acres of corn and soybeans in Sparta, Wis., and two other farmers spoke during an Ag Equipment Intelligence Executive Briefing panel discussion aimed at informing dealers and ag industry executives. As dealers continue to struggle with technician shortages, Leverich thought one solution to the issue could be farmers hiring their own techs or dealers providing repair training to growers.
“Every time we take a truck or tractor in, it’s $175-200 an hour to get something serviced. Many of us could do that ourselves, or we could hire a technician on our own farms to do it, but we can’t get the software,” Leverich says. "The days of being able to control some of those costs by doing it yourself are out the window right now. Some of these companies would be better off if they actually had training sessions because most of the dealers can’t afford enough technicians or can’t get enough technicians.
“You’ve got this poor guy running from farm to farm trying to keep tractors running and a lot of this stuff we could learn how to do. There’s several farmers I know who are really good at doing things like that, but they’re not able to get the software, so they can’t fix it. I know there’s liability involved for them when they do that, but something’s got to change because we can’t keep having all this computer-controlled equipment without being able to fix it.”
Right to repair gained increased attention after several farmers filed class action lawsuits and an antitrust lawsuit against Deere & Co. in 2022. In October, nine farmers filed a consolidated class action lawsuit against Deere, alleging the company obstructs farmers' access to comprehensive repair tools.
Advancing technology makes it increasingly harder for farmers and independent companies to repair equipment without a costly computer program and subscription, says no-till planter expert David Moeller.
"I've seen some talk that they're pushing to have that opened up, so you may have to pay a subscription to be able to have a computer hooked up to it, but you could at least troubleshoot and tell the dealership, 'All right, here's what I'm seeing. Now, tell me what I need to do,'" Moeller says in this November episode of the No-Till Farmer Influencer and Innovators podcast. "As technology advances, it gets tougher and tougher to be able to repair stuff without having a computer tied to you."