Senator Seeks To Crack Down On Cyber Threats To US Agriculture

( – On Jan. 25, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton introduced the Farm and Food Cybersecurity Act, which would strengthen security against cyberattacks for critical food and agriculture industries.

The proposed legislation requires biennial cybersecurity studies in the food and agriculture sectors, with the findings reported to Congress. Various government agencies must also conduct an annual crisis simulation for cyber emergencies related to the food sector.

Cotton said Congress and the Department of Agriculture must work together “to identify and defeat these cybersecurity vulnerabilities.” He said the legislation would help ensure the “supply chains our farmers and all Americans rely on” are protected.

In a statement, the bill’s co-sponsor, Democratic New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, said “a vital component of our national security” is protecting farms and food security from cyberattacks.

The bipartisan bill is also co-sponsored by Republican Sen. Alabama Katie Britt, Republican Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran, Republican Sen. Nebraska Pete Ricketts, Republican South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds, Republican Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, and Republican Wyoming Sen. Cynthia Lummis.

Republican Minnesota Rep. Brad Finstad and Democratic Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin will introduce bipartisan companion legislation in the House.

Finstad said the legislation will “help us prevent these attacks from occurring in the future.” While Slotkin noted the legislation is needed because a cyberattack could potentially cause a threat to the food supply and “upend folks’ daily lives,”

Several agricultural groups have announced their support for the proposed legislation, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, the USA Rice and Agricultural Retailers Association, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, the National Grain and Feed Association, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the North American Millers Association, and the National Pork Producers Council.

The proposed legislation comes about a month after the Municipal Water Authority of Aliquippa, a small water authority in western Pennsylvania, along with other U.S. water utilities, were the victims of a cyberattack by Iranian-backed hackers specifically targeting a piece of Israeli-made equipment. The incident highlighted the danger a cyberattack could pose to the drinking water supply.

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