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U.S. proposes cyber security agriculture bill

January 31 — Two U.S. Senators have introduced a bipartisan bill that’s intended to strengthen cyber security in the food and agriculture sector. The new bill is known as the Farm and Food Cybersecurity Act.

The legislation, proposed by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Tom Common (R-AR), targets the identification of cyber security vulnerabilities in agriculture, enhancing cyber defenses for both public and private entities within the industry, and fortifying security measures within the U.S. food supply chain.

What it means

The Farm and Food Cybersecurity Act, if successful, will mandate that the Secretary of Agriculture conduct an annual cross-sector crisis simulation exercise for cyber emergencies related to the food industry. This simulation would be coordinated with the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, as well as the Director of National Intelligence.

Additionally, the Secretary of Agriculture will be required to conduct a biennial study on cyber security threats and vulnerabilities specific to the food and agriculture sectors. The findings of this study would be submitted to Congress.

The proposed Act is designed to address gaps, challenges, barriers, and opportunities for improving defensive measures within food and agriculture’s critical infrastructure.

Safeguarding farms and food

As she conveyed her message before the U.S. Congress, Senator Gillibrand highlighted the significance of safeguarding the nation’s farms and implementing stronger security against cyber attacks.

She asserted that the Farm and Food Cybersecurity Act represents a crucial step in preparing the agriculture sector to effectively respond to potential cyber threats.

The legislation has garnered bipartisan support, with several Republican senators co-sponsoring, including Pete Ricketts (R-NE), Katie Britt (R-AL), John Barrasso (R-WY), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Mike Rounds (R-SD).

Companion legislation

Congressman Brad Finstad (R-MN) and Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) have introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

Finstad commented: “Food and farm security is national security. With growing threats at home and abroad, it is increasingly important that we ensure our nation’s agriculture sector and food supply chain remain secure.”

Finally, the proposed Farm and Food Cybersecurity Act received support from the US Chamber of Commerce and several industry organizations, such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, the North American Millers Association, the National Grain and Feed Association, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the National Pork Producers Council, USA Rice, the Agricultural Retailers Association and the American Sugar Alliance.

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