A new bill introduced by two bipartisan US Senators aims to strengthen the cybersecurity of the food and agriculture sector, potentially leading to the implementation of the Farm and Food Cybersecurity Act.
The proposed bill, put forth by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Tom Common (R-AR), seeks to identify and address cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the agriculture sector. It also aims to enhance the cyber defenses of private and government entities involved in the food and agriculture industry. Additionally, the bill aims to improve security protection for the US food supply chain.
If passed, the Farm and Food Cybersecurity Act would require the Secretary of Agriculture to conduct an annual cross-sector crisis simulation exercise to prepare for potential food-related cyber emergencies or disruptions. This exercise would be planned in coordination with the Secretaries of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, and the Director of National Intelligence.
Furthermore, the Secretary of Agriculture would be mandated to conduct a biennial study on cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities within the agriculture and food sectors, submitting a report to Congress. The proposed Act would also address gaps, challenges, barriers, and opportunities for bolstering defensive measures in the agriculture and food critical infrastructure sector.
In support of the bill, Senator Gillibrand emphasized the importance of protecting the nation’s farms and food security against cyberattacks, stating that it is a vital component of national security. She expressed that the Farm and Food Cybersecurity Act is a crucial step towards preparing the agriculture sector to respond to potential cyber threats during a congressional hearing.
Senator Cotton echoed these sentiments, emphasizing that adversaries are actively seeking to gain an advantage against the US, making it crucial to identify and address cybersecurity vulnerabilities. He highlighted the importance of ensuring the protection of the supply chains that farmers and all Americans rely on.
The legislation has garnered support from both Democrats and Republicans. A group of Republican senators, 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) are co-sponsoring the bill. Additionally, Congressman Brad Finstad (R-MN) and Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) have introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
Finstad emphasized the significance of food and farm security as national security, particularly in the face of growing threats at home and abroad. The proposed Farm and Food Cybersecurity Act has also received widespread support from industry organizations, such as the US Chamber of Commerce, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Grain and Feed Association, and several other agriculture and industry-related associations.
Matthew Eggers, VP of cybersecurity policy at the US Chamber of Commerce, emphasized the agricultural and food industry’s longstanding collaboration with the federal government to enhance security and resilience. He expressed that the bill furthers the goal of bolstering cybersecurity measures within the agriculture and food sector.
Overall, the bipartisan bill introduced by Senators Gillibrand and Cotton, together with the support from both Democrats, Republicans, and industry organizations, highlights the significance of addressing cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the food and agriculture sector, ultimately strengthening the nation’s food supply chain and protecting critical infrastructure. If the bill is passed, it could lead to essential measures to bolster the cybersecurity of the agriculture and food sector, improving national security and safeguarding the well-being of American farmers and consumers.