JBS USA and its Pilgrim’s Pride subsidiary said in a news release on Tuesday evening that “the vast majority of our beef, pork, poultry and prepared foods plants” will be operational on Wednesday.
“Our systems are coming back online and we are not sparing any resources to fight this threat,” the company said. “We have cybersecurity plans in place to address these types of issues and we are successfully executing those plans. Given the progress our IT professionals and plant teams have made in the last 24 hours, the vast majority of our beef, pork, poultry and prepared foods plants will be operational tomorrow.”
According to the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, the JBS attack affected all of the company’s meatpacking facilities, and all JBS-fed beef plants and regional beef plants were shut down. The apparent attack came just weeks after hackers brought the Colonial Pipeline to a halt and wreaked havoc on the East Coast’s gasoline supply.
The White House has offered help to JBS, and the administration as well as the USDA have been in touch with JBS leadership “several times,” Jean-Pierre said. She said JBS notified the administration of the apparent attack on Sunday. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is working with the FBI to provide “technical support” to JBS, Jean-Pierre said.
“Combating ransomware is a priority for the administration,” she said.
JBS controls about 23 percent of cattle-processing capacity in the U.S., more than any other beef packer, according to industry data compiled by Steiner Consulting Group, an economic consulting firm.
The company, which is based in Brazil, is also the second-largest U.S. pork processor, handling 18 percent of national capacity. One of its subsidiaries is Pilgrim’s Pride, which is the world’s largest poultry processor in terms of volume and is second-largest in the U.S. after Tyson Foods.
Steiner Consulting Group predicted in a research note that the hack could be a “major issue” for the country’s overall meat processing capacity, but that “much will depend on how long the disruption persists.”
“The attack on the Colonial pipeline resulted in significant gasoline shortages in some parts of the country, and we fear that stores that normally get deliveries from JBS may face a similar situation,” the firm wrote.
A source from the meat industry said it was too early to speculate about the potential hit to processing from the hack but noted that beef and pork production was already being slowed down by labor shortages.
The Agriculture Department could not speculate on how the hack was affecting prices. USDA said its daily 2 p.m. estimate of cattle and hog slaughter report was delayed due to “packer submission problems.”
In the wake of the Colonial Pipeline attack, Biden issued an executive order calling for an upgrade to the federal government’s way of handling cybersecurity, an order that had been in process for months and did not address private companies’ critical infrastructure.
The order also created a new Cybersecurity Safety Review Board, led by a private-sector representative and the Department of Homeland Security, that would produce reports on cyberattacks after the fact.
Last week, the Transportation Security Administration moved to require companies whose pipelines have been hit by attacks to report them to the government.
Ryan McCrimmon, Ximena Bustillo and Myah Ward contributed to this report.