Latest cyberattack on meatpacking business points to long-term concerns for the industry

Local

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – JBS is a meatpacker that was hit by a cyberattack this week.

“This could have significant reflections on the beef market,” said agriculture analyst John Jenkinson. “This could certainly reduce that capacity sharply.”

Jenkinson says JBS accounts for about 25% of the meatpacking industry. JBS decided on Tuesday to close packing facilities in the United States and Australia. The company has not yet announced when the facilities will reopen.

“JBS I understand is working hard at solving the issues here,” said Jenkinson.

The details on the cyber attack are still emerging, but with a major meatpacking player closed for a time, it could squeeze markets and lead to higher prices.

“The consumer could see this down the road just for the fact that it’s going to cost more money to ship these cattle to different locations,” said Jenkinson. “And it will continue to backlog many of the processing cattle that are ready to go to market.”

Moving cattle to market in Kansas has not been impacted yet, but producers say they are watching closely.

“Moving cattle to market has a time stamp to it, and so when it’s time to go, it’s time to go because once they hit that peak weight then it’s pretty inefficient after that,” said beef producer Derek Klingenberg. “And they don’t eat quite as much and so then you are not making the margin that you were, and so you want to send them to market when it’s time.”

Klingenberg says while moving Kansas cattle has not been an issue, cyberattacks can move prices.

Jenkinson agrees and says beyond consumer prices moving there remains cyberattack concerns.

“This certainly raises red flags that the United States is vulnerable,” said Jenkinson. “Not only through its energy but also food security as well, this could play a major role in food security if this continues to be widespread.”

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