JBS ransomware attack a gut check for Montana ranchers

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Cattle await their fate in a feedlot next to the JBS beef plant in Cactus, Texas. A ransomware attack attributed to Russian hackers by the FBI shut down JBS meatpacking plants for a day and half this week, during which the U.S. meat processing fell by more than 40,000 carcasses.

Jonathan Tilove, Austin American-Statesman

This week’s ransomware attack on the world’s largest meatpacker was a gut check for Montana ranchers, still weary after slaughterhouse slowdowns during the previous two years.

The attack, attributed to Russian hackers by the FBI, shut down JBS meatpacking plants for a day and half, during which the U.S. meat processing fell by more than 40,000 carcasses. National news stories zeroed in on whether there would be meat shortages and, of course, higher U.S. retail prices for beef and pork. JBS accounts for 20% of the U.S. supply.

Ranchers understood the shutdown differently, having the suffered the economic consequences of a packing plant slowdown in 2019, followed by COVID-19 stifling meat production in 2020.

Sure, less processing means less meat

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