‘Hog-tied’ and fed up: New report shows dealership consolidation makes farmers’ lives harder

Media Contacts
Bridget Sanderson

Former State Director, Environment Missouri

Manufacturer-imposed restrictions prevent farmers from fixing their own tractors. Dealership consolidation in Missouri and around the country leaves them with even fewer repair choices.

Environment Missouri

Jefferson City, MO— Many farm equipment manufacturers prevent farmers from accessing the software tools they need to fix their modern tractors. That forces farmers to turn to corporate-authorized dealers for many problems, which can lead to high repair bills and delays that can put their crops—and their livelihoods—at risk. While farmers have always relied on local dealerships for help, more and more those dealerships have been bought up by large chain networks, further reducing competition and exacerbating the problems farmers already face due to repair restrictions.

A new Environment Missouri Research and Policy Center report, “Deere in the Headlights II,” demonstrates the extent of the dealership consolidation problem, looks at the specific impacts on Missouri farmers, and shows how Right to Repair reforms could dramatically increase farmers’ repair choices.

Our research found that John Deere, which controls 53% of the country’s large tractor market, has more consolidated and larger chains than competitors Case IH, AGCO and Kubota. Eighty-two percent of Deere’s 1,357 agricultural equipment dealership locations are a part of a large chain with seven or more sites. In Missouri, there is one John Deere chain for every 13571 farms and every 3929 acres of farmland.

Fig. 1: 82% of Deere dealership locations are part of large chains with 7 or more sites, compared to 37% for Case IH, 22% for AGCO and 5.8% for Kubota.

“Between repair restrictions and dealership consolidation, farmers are feeling hog-tied,” said Bridget Sanderson, Director of Environment Missouri Research and Policy Center “Farmers deserve to be able to choose between fixing their own tractors, hiring an independent mechanic or turning to competing dealerships nearby. Instead, many have only one dealership chain within a hundred miles that services their brand of equipment. Finding repair options shouldn’t be like searching for a needle in a haystack.”

Fig. 2: Map of Missouri showing areas of farmland that does not have access to repair options

“I know my tractor, to just get the code read, it took three weeks to get a person to come out and just read the code,” said Missouri State Representative Barry Hovis, Missouri farmer, and champion of Right to Repair. 

Many farmers including Missouri farmer Jared Wilson are calling for Right to Repair reforms, which would provide farmers and independent mechanics with the software and other materials required to repair modern tractors. Representative Barry Hovis and Senator Mike Cierpiot introduced HB 2402 and SB 1086, which would grant Missouri farmers the right to repair their equipment. 

Farmer’s repair options are dwindling, and it’s a cause for concern. Giving farmers a Right to Repair means that they can take equipment to a wider variety of local businesses. The manufacturer shouldn’t be allowed to tell farmers where they can fix their equipment. It’s common sense.