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Wednesday, July 28th, 2021

Sen. Tester urges investigation attack on meat processing industry, increased security

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Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) has forwarded correspondence to Biden administration leaders requesting an investigation into a beef processing industry ransomware attack and means of bolstering cybersecurity.

Tester’s recent letter to Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and Attorney General Merrick Garland also addressed consolidation in the nation’s agriculture sector.

“While any attack on critical infrastructure can lead to substantial damages, attacks on our food supply are particularly alarming,” Tester wrote regarding the attack on JBS,
the world’s largest meatpacker. “As a farmer, I know first hand both the importance of feeding America and the complexity of our food supply chains. Through my own experiences and from conversations with countless producers, it is clear that our food systems are far too vulnerable.”

JBS presently processes more than 20 percent of cattle, more than 15 percent of pork, and a significant portion of poultry domestically.

Tester indicated his Rancher Relief Plan seeks to address corporate consolidation by
Increasing interstate commerce and diversifying meat production in Montana and neighboring states; introducing bills ensuring fair prices at the farm gate from large packers; and initiating a bipartisan Senate push for mandatory Country of Origin Labeling since Congress repealed it in 2015.