cyber attack meat processing

One of the world’s largest meatpackers recently announced it had been hit by a cyber-attack. JBS announced Sunday some of the servers supporting its North American and Australian IT systems were targeted. The company took immediate action, suspending all of the affected systems, notifying authorities, and activating the company’s global network of IT professionals and third-party experts to resolve the situation, but said a resolution of the incident will take time, which may delay certain transactions with customers and suppliers.

“It is concerning whenever we see disruptions in our food supply chain,” said Scott Bennett, director of congressional relations with the American Farm Bureau Federation. “We hope JBS can get up and running as soon as possible. This event has certainly shined a light on how vulnerable even agriculture can be to cybersecurity threats.”

This is an all-to-familiar situation for livestock farmers, after food shortages amid the COVID-19 pandemic unveiled just how fragile the nation’s food supply system is. To address those shortfalls, Ohio Farm Bureau has put a focus on making the state’s food system more resilient for farmers and consumers.

“We have been looking at this issue for a long time bringing capacity issues and the need to grow our state’s small and medium size packers to the attention of lawmakers,” said Brandon Kern, Ohio Farm Bureau’s senior director of state and national policy. “Funding in this year’s budget shows that our message is getting through and we are very encouraged by these first steps to help grow local capacity for our livestock producers.”

The budget appropriates $10 million to the Department of Development for the creation of the Meat Processing Investment Program, which will make grants to meat processing plants for facility improvements and capacity expansion, including but not limited to equipment purchases or upgrades, training, and process improvements.

These funds may also be helpful in alleviating other issues Farm Bureau is working on, including line speeds in regional hog processing facilities and market price disparities currently being realized in the beef industry, but they will not solve them completely.

“We have to continue looking at the bigger picture of these issues. The meat packing industry is dominated by four major players and two of them are foreign owned and producers are concerned about that,” Kern said. “They are also concerned about price points and the current logistics in the supply chain. What is being done in Ohio will help, but these issues span much further than our state lines and we will continue to work on our members’ behalf to see that their concerns are addressed.”

I'm eternally grateful for the support Ohio Farm Bureau scholarships provided in helping me turn my dreams into reality.
Bethany Starlin's avatar
Bethany Starlin

Hocking County Farm Bureau

Available scholarships
With not growing up on a farm, I’d say I was a late bloomer to agriculture. I feel so fortunate that I found the agriculture industry. There are so many opportunities for growth.
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Jenna Gregorich

Coshocton County Farm Bureau

Growing our Generation
Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
Mandy Way's avatar
Mandy Way

Way Farms

Business Solutions
If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington.
Austin Heil's avatar
Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.
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Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
So many of the issues that OFBF and its members are advocating for are important to all Ohioans. I look at OFBF as an agricultural watchdog advocating for farmers and rural communities across Ohio.
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Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

Advocacy
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