I don't think that's what John Deere is meaning for at all. And let me play devil's advocate here for a minute, as someone who has worked with farmers in the past.
First of all, as someone who grew up working on farms and with farmers, let me dispel some of the Norman Rockwell bullshit image about the "noble farmer." The farmers that I knew coming up weren't the "heart and soul of America" (well, maybe they were, but not in a good way). They were the greediest, cheapest bunch of sonabitches you ever wanted to meet in your life. They would routinely try cheat their workers, crawl over their mother's dead bodies to make an extra penny, lie, cheat, and often outright steal if they thought they could get away with it. They were the kind of unabashed brutal capitalists who would easily give the most heartless Wall Street prick a run for his money in greed and avarice.
They didn't do this out of necessity, mind you. Most of the farmers I knew had plenty of money. Far from the popular image of the poor struggling farmers, most of them were quite well-off. Yet they would cheat you out of every dime they could if they got a chance. And when the illegals came in to my area in a big way back in the late-80's and early-90's, these "noble farmers" were the first to happily hire them, cutting farmhand wages in half and pocketing the difference by flagrantly breaking the law. The average farmworker salary went from $7/hr. to $4/hr. almost overnight, in spite of the fact that farmers were already making good money paying their workers $7/hr.
With that in mind, I suspect this John Deere situation has something in common with the controversial Monsanto seed situation, in that the real truth is that it boils down to cheap-ass greedy farmers using the "evil big corporation vs. the little noble farmer" image to their advantage by villianizing John Deere. What I suspect is REALLY going on here is that John Deere and other manufacturers have adopted a model of selling their equipment to farmers either at a loss or at cost, with the understanding that they'll make their profit in implicit servicing contracts. And the farmers, now that they have the equipment in hand on the cheap, have decided to "alter the deal" (to quote the great Darth Vader) to save a buck. And they're playing on their bullshit image to portray themselves as the little guy fighting back against evil big business to do it, when in reality they're every bit as greedy and underhanded as the company they're fighting (likely more so).
Now go ahead an mod me down, all of you whose only knowledge of farmers comes from John Mellencamp songs.
I won't contest that farmers are businessmen first, despite being firmly blue collar, but they DO have to hedge against QUITE a bit of stuff. While they don't worry about "the consumer won't buy our product", they DO worry about "what happens when the crop gets destroyed by bad weather/vermin/disease" and "geez that's a lot of water I'm having to pump this year". These impact the bottom line and have to be hedged against. Long term farmers hedge against multiple seasons of bad, which is why they've survived as long as they have.
The amount of assets (which includes the land itself) required for farming is pretty significant when compared to most other businesses.
Broken equipment doesn't just cost "what's in my SLA", but could cost a significant yeild of a crop. Being able to fix stuff in-situ makes sure the wheels keep turning. This is (part) of the argument against John Deere: Calling them during a busy time is potentially a massive problem because "Locusts are chewing through the field next to mine and if I don't get mine crop harvested, I'm not going to get anything out if it either." "We can dispatch someone tomorrow" is a non-starter at times. I don't know how the SLAs are set up for farm equipment, if there are any. When my family was working, it was fixed in place with bailing wire, duct tape, bubble gum, and spit, until it could be fixed right. Assuming "fixed right" didn't cost an arm and leg. And first born.
In recent times, food producers have also had to compete on the world stage to sell their crops. Labour is a bottom line expense, and a very large part of producing food, and it has a significant disparity when comparing to other places. There's reasons why massive mechanization has happened in the space in North America, despite it's enormous expense and (outside of it's designated task) limited use.
Also, I'd ask "how old were these famers you were around?". My family (great grands who used to do the farming thing as well) went through the depression, and therefore hedged MASSIVELY against that kind of thing happening ever again.
There's multiple facets to EVERY story. Assuming and/or assigning the worst intentions to people and their motivations is at best a cynical thing to do. At least if they're not lawyers.