R2ROn July 9, President Biden issued an Executive Order on “Promoting Competition in the American Economy.” The Executive Order directs federal agencies to use the tools at their disposal to accomplish this goal. According to the White House, this could mean fewer rules in some instances and more vigorous enforcement in other instances.

The wide-ranging Executive Order includes 72 individual initiatives among 12 different agencies, including strengthening Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission merger review, examining the federal procurement process, and looking at the legality of non-compete agreements. The Executive Order also urges the Federal Trade Commission to consider promulgating rules on “right to repair” for large equipment, notably tractors.

The White House’s messaging strategy on the agriculture sector is increasingly concerning. During a press briefing the day before the Executive Order was signed, White House staff indicated that they believe family farmers and ranchers are “taken advantage of” by large agribusiness companies. “Big ag is putting a squeeze on farmers,” President Biden said in signing the order. “Small and family farms, first-time farmers – like veterans coming home and Black and Latino and Indigenous farmers – they’re seeing price hikes for seed, lopsided contracts, shrinking profits, and growing debt.”

The Executive Order also addresses what the White House sees as farmers’ inability to repair their own equipment or to use independent repair shops. AEM has made it clear to the White House that equipment manufacturers have always supported farmers’ right to repair their own equipment and remain committed to providing them with the tools and information needed to reduce downtime and maximize productivity. The Executive Order does not change that.

This is not a new issue for the industry. AEM has successfully highlighted the industry’s strong commitment to farmers’ right to repair while vigorously fighting against any and all efforts to make it easier to make modifications that are illegal, unsafe, and harmful to the public and the environment.

AEM is actively engaging with the White House and the Federal Trade Commission to discuss the many unintended consequences that the Executive Order will have for equipment manufacturers, dealers, and farmers across the country, and to make the following points:

  • Equipment manufacturers already provide the tools and information farmers need to repair and maintain their own equipment.
  • Modern agriculture equipment is increasingly sophisticated – as a result of efforts to increase efficiency, reduce emissions, and improve safety – and in a few cases a trained and licenses service technician is required to repair it.
  • Hundreds of thousands of family-sustaining jobs, especially in rural areas, are at risk as a result of unfettered third-party repair or self-repair.
  • The unfettered ability to modify equipment will effectively destroy the market for used equipment, which is important for many small farmers.

AEM looks forward to continuing the dialogue with the White House and the Federal Trade Commission as they consider next steps in the coming weeks.

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