Cyberattack leaves Oklahoma beef producers on edge

Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 4:22 PM CDT
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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KSWO) - A cyberattack on the world’s largest meat processing company has Oklahoma beef producers on edge again.

It happened as the industry is still recovering from several disruptions in the beef supply chain that happened throughout the pandemic.

The company JBS said an “organized cyber-security attack” targeted some of its servers for North America and Australia.

According to an Oklahoma Ag Economics specialist, the ransomware attack caused a 22% decline in production on Tuesday right after it happened, and a 15% decline in production Wednesday.

He says since it was such a short disruption, there shouldn’t be any huge repercussions to the supply chain, but there will be some.

“Anytime something like this happens we see a whole lot of market volatility and a lot of questions that are tough to answer,” Trent Milacek said. “What we will see is a little bit of change to wholesale beef prices for sure because you’re going to have less production and less available for wholesale beef now whether or not that actually gets to the retail side and producer or consumers notice any change there that’s hard to say I would doubt it from sudden things so short term.”

In Oklahoma, calving season tends to be in the spring. So, for cow calf producers, it’s too early to tell how it will affect them when they go to market in the fall.

That will not be the case for feeder cattle right now.

“Now, feedlots they they’re going to see quite a bit of problems there ‘cause if they have contracts with JBS deliver cattle obviously they aren’t going to be able to or they haven’t been able to deliver those cattle if they can’t process them so then freeing up space there in the front end is kind of difficult and you won’t necessarily be able to purchase gas because he won’t have in space and those feedlots for just a little bit so that’s kind of the overview of what could possibly happen there,” Milacek said.

The typical beef producer with less than 50 cows won’t necessarily be affected right away.

Milacek advises producers if possible, to maneuver their marketing strategies to not have to sell at a time like this.

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