US Senators Introduce Bill to Strengthen Agriculture Cybersecurity

By Sharique

A bipartisan bill put forth by two US Senators seeks to enhance the cybersecurity measures within the food and agriculture sector, potentially resulting in the enactment of the Farm and Food Cybersecurity Act.

The primary objective of this proposed legislation is to pinpoint cybersecurity weaknesses in the agricultural domain, fortify the cyber defenses of both private and government entities operating within this sector, and elevate the security standards safeguarding the US food supply chain.

Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) are the driving forces behind this initiative.

Under the proposed Farm and Food Cybersecurity Act, the Secretary of Agriculture would be mandated to conduct an annual cross-sector simulation exercise focusing on crises related to cyber incidents or disruptions affecting the food industry. This simulation would be carefully coordinated with the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services, as well as the Director of National Intelligence.

Additionally, the Secretary of Agriculture would be tasked with conducting a biennial analysis of cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities inherent in the agriculture and food sectors, followed by the submission of a comprehensive report to Congress.

Lastly, the proposed Act aims to address existing gaps, challenges, barriers, and opportunities for enhancing defensive measures within the critical infrastructure of agriculture and food.

During discussions in front of the US Congress, Senator Gillibrand emphasized the significance of safeguarding the nation’s farms and food security against potential cyber threats, citing it as a crucial aspect of national security. Senator Cotton echoed this sentiment, highlighting the relentless efforts of adversaries aiming to exploit vulnerabilities within critical industries like agriculture, thereby necessitating collaborative efforts between Congress and the Department of Agriculture to identify and mitigate cybersecurity risks.

The bill has garnered bipartisan support, with several Republican senators co-sponsoring the legislation, along with the introduction of companion legislation in the House of Representatives by Congressman Brad Finstad (R-MN) and Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (D-MI).

Furthermore, the proposed Farm and Food Cybersecurity Act has received backing from influential entities such as the US Chamber of Commerce and various industry organizations, underscoring the importance of strengthening cybersecurity measures within the agriculture and food sectors. Matthew Eggers, VP of cybersecurity policy at the US Chamber of Commerce, hailed the bill as a significant step toward enhancing security and resilience within the agriculture and food industry, emphasizing the longstanding collaboration between industry stakeholders and the federal government in this regard.

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