USDA: Hacking JBS will not interrupt meat supply

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said Thursday (June 3) that the ransomware hack against meat conglomerate JBS USA was unlikely to cause significant damage, but did expose the risks posed by consolidation in the food industry.

In a statement Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture revealed that beef and pork production has begun to rebound, according to The Hill, a Washington newspaper. This past weekend, a hacking attack forced the second-largest U.S. meat producer to shut down several of its own plants.

Twenty-five percent of U.S. beef and 20 percent of pork and poultry are sold by “JBS USA. The company revealed on Tuesday (June 1) that it expects to resume full capacity by Thursday (June 3).

Our daily market data show a strong rebound in cattle and hog slaughter,” the USDA said. We expect this trend to continue through the week. And this week’s poultry supply is already higher than last week’s. All in all, the market is moving toward normalization. If the situation continues to be resolved quickly, we do not expect this event to have a lasting impact on wholesale and retail prices.”

USDA also added that the Biden administration has pushed other meat producers to help fill the gap left by the JBS attack and “take whatever steps are necessary to mitigate price increases or commodity shortages.”

The brief closure of the JBS plant is expected to push meat prices slightly higher. Industry experts say the impact of the JBS hack on meat supplies and prices will be limited and mainly short-term. Meat prices are still expected to rise as the U.S. economy recovers from the COVID-19 (Chinese Communist virus) outbreak.

However, while damage from the attack may be limited, fears of a potential disaster for the U.S. food system are still sending shockwaves across the country. A prolonged shutdown of large meat producers like JBS could trigger severe meat shortages and upend the entire industry.

The cyberattack on JBS USA highlights the risks of integrating the food system,” the USDA said. If we have learned anything from the COVID-19 (Chinese Communist Virus) outbreak and recent events, it is that we need to invest in a durable, decentralized and better equipped food system to meet the challenges of the 21st century, including cybersecurity threats and other disruptive disruptions.”