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Iowa’s top farming official reacts to ransomware attacks, plant shutdowns


June 2nd, 2021 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Two meatpacking plants in Iowa saw cancelled shifts and a halt in production this week, following a cyberattack on the world’s largest meat producer. J-B-S plants in Marshalltown and Ottumwa were forced to slow down or temporarily stop production lines. Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig says he’s concerned about interruptions which can hurt the industry, including local livestock producers. “Any disruption in packing capacity will push that supply back up on farms,” Naig says. “The good news right now is that we’re getting reports that many of the plants are operating — at a reduced capacity, but they are operating and that’s important.”

Naig says it’s past time for the U-S to examine its computer infrastructure and to make corrections to prevent further hacking. “The bigger picture here with these cyberattacks is that it was first on critical energy infrastructure, with the energy pipeline recently, and now with the food supply chain, we’ve got a lot of work to do as a country to shore up and defend our critical infrastructure,” Naig says, “and cyber is certainly one of those areas that needs a focus.”

J-B-S, which is based in Brazil, closed all of its beef plants on Tuesday after the breach. The White House says the ransomware attack likely came from a criminal organization based in Russia.