California agriculture produces one-third of the country’s vegetables, two-thirds of its fruits and nuts, and generates around $50 billion in annual revenue. We are the nation’s breadbasket, and we help feed much of the world by exporting over $20 billion in agricultural commodities every year. According to the San Diego County Farm Bureau, the County’s agricultural production ranks 19th out of over 3,000 counties nationwide. Much of that agriculture is centered right here, in the 75th Assembly District.
But agriculture is vulnerable, dependent on weather, unstable markets, fertilizer costs/availability, and many other factors. We’re in a drought, something that’s not uncommon, but for decades the state has taken no action to increase water storage. If that isn’t enough, now there’s another problem – cyber and ransomware attacks on agricultural companies. Throughout the U.S., Federal data shows that cyber attacks are increasing, with an estimated 47,000 nationwide, resulting in payouts totaling $1.2 billion across all sectors of the economy.
With more growers and livestock companies using precision farming and tech in their operations, this could become a common issue. In April, the FBI put the AG industry on alert after a series of cyber attacks targeting grain cooperatives. Criminals may consider agriculture an easy target, one that reaps immediate rewards. For example, disrupting seed supplies during planting season, or shutting down a dairy’s operations creating spoilage problems, can generate quick payouts from victims to criminals.
The FBI is recommending increased AG Cyber-Security. The measures include:
- Backup data regularly and keep password-protected copies offline
- Identify critical functions and devise plans for operating manually
- Install operating system updates and patches as they become available
- Use anti-virus and anti-malware software
- Use multifactor authentication when possible
- Use complex passwords and change them regularly
The FBI’s notification is available at: https://www.ic3.gov/Media/News/2022/220420-2.pdf
Agriculture is vital to our state and local economies. As an Assemblymember representing one of California’s leading agricultural regions, I will continue to do all I can to support this irreplaceable industry.