Agro Foreign News


The United States is “looking closely” at whether to retaliate against Russian President Vladimir Putin for the ransomware attack on meatpacker JBS, said President Biden on Wednesday. The White House said all options for action were on the table and that Biden would raise the issue directly with Putin when the leaders meet in Geneva later this month.

“President Biden certainly thinks that President Putin and the Russian government [have] a role to play in stopping and preventing these attacks. Hence it will be a topic of discussion when they meet in two weeks,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. “We’re not taking options off the table in terms of how we respond.”

JBS, the world’s largest meat processor, said it anticipated operating at close to full capacity at its plants worldwide on Thursday. “Today, the vast majority of our facilities resumed operations as we forecast … including all of our pork, poultry, and prepared foods facilities around the world and the majority of our beef facilities in the United States and Australia,” said Andre Nogueira, chief executive of JBS USA on Wednesday. JBS idled beef plants in Australia, Canada, and the United States at the start of the week because of an “organized cybersecurity attack” on its computer network. The Brazilian-based company told the Biden administration that a ransom demand came from a criminal organization likely based in Russia.

Responding to shouted questions about possible retaliation against Putin for the attack, Biden told reporters, “We’re looking closely at that issue.” Asked if Putin was testing him, Biden replied, “No.”

The FBI tabbed the Russian-speaking gang REvil, also called Sodinokibi, as the culprit, reported the Associated Press. REvil has made some of the largest known, recent ransom demands, said the news agency, and one of its representatives said last fall that agriculture would be a main target.

JBS did not say if it paid money to the cybercriminals to restore its computer system. “We have cybersecurity plans in place to address these types of issues, and we are successfully executing those plans,” said Andre Nogueira, chief executive of JBS USA on Tuesday night. JBS said its operations in Mexico and Britain were not affected by the attack.

Slaughter cattle prices rebounded in futures trading in Chicago on Wednesday, ending the day at $119.25 per 100 pounds, up 2.65¢. JBS accounts for nearly a quarter of U.S. beef production and 18% of pork output.

The ransomware attack sparked new calls for a wider variety of processors. “Instead of relying solely on industrial-scale meat plants, we should make locally raised livestock processing more widely available,” said Rep. Chellie Pingree, Maine Democrat, on social media. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association urged the leaders of the Senate and House Agriculture committees to address critical concerns, including an expansion of beef processing capacity.

The attack on JBS was the second in four weeks to affect a critical U.S. industry. In May, a ransomware attack shut down a petroleum pipeline supplying the East Coast.

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