WASHINGTON — Bipartisan legislation was introduced on June 27 in the US House of Representatives to protect the American food supply from cyberattacks.
Reps. Zach Nunn (R-Iowa) and Don Davis (D-NC) proposed in The Cybersecurity in Agriculture Act to create five regional agriculture cybersecurity centers around the United States and a national network for the regional centers to communicate regularly.
Nunn introduced the proposal at Iowa State University’s Polk County Extension Office.
“Recent cyberattacks have shut down food processing plants, targeted grain cooperatives during harvest, and put our food supply at risk. Our farmers and producers are vulnerable,” Nunn said. “The Cybersecurity in Agriculture Act will utilize resources at our nation’s leading agriculture educational institutions, like Iowa State University, to help better protect Iowa’s agricultural industry against nefarious actors.”
The five centers plan to conduct research on cybersecurity systems, develop agriculture-specific operations to analyze threats and develop cybersecurity tools to combat hackers.
“Food security is national security. By researching, setting up a special center to handle security, and making special cybersecurity tools, we’ll strengthen our defenses across eastern North Carolina and the country,” Davis said.
Agricultural companies remain targets of cyberattacks. A high profile incident from 2021 was JBS paying $11 million in ransom after hackers took over the company’s servers in North America and Australia.
According to a recent report by Comparitech, about 157 businesses were known to have been hit by attacks in the last five years.
Earlier in June, Nunn and Davis introduced a similar bill that intended to protect rural water systems from cyberattacks.