CHICAGO: Minnesota agricultural company Crystal Valley Cooperative has said it has been the target of a ransomware attack in recent days, making it the second Midwestern farm service provider in a week to be forced to take their systems offline due to cybersecurity incidents.
Crystal Valley, which sells supplies like fertilizer to farmers and buys their crops, said it learned of the attack on Sunday, prompting it to take its operating systems offline and stop accepting major credit cards.
“This attack infected Crystal Valley’s computer systems and severely disrupted the day-to-day operations of the company,” Crystal Valley said in a statement posted on its website. He asked customers to understand while the company resolved the issue.
The attack left Crystal Valley unable to mix fertilizer or fulfill feed orders, Kevin Paap, a corn and soybean farmer in Garden City, Minnesota, said Thursday.
“With the help of other local cooperatives, they help grind food and share the burden,” he said.
NEW Cooperative Inc in Iowa said Monday its systems were offline to contain a cybersecurity incident. A group of Russian-speaking cybercriminals named BlackMatter said on their website that they stole data from the agricultural service provider.
Disturbances hit the agricultural belt as producers prepare for the fall harvest.
Crystal Valley operates eight grain elevators with a total capacity of 25 million bushels in Minnesota, the third largest soybean producing state and the fourth largest corn producer, according to its website. Two locations load huge trains of 110 cars for delivery to large buyers or exporters.
Paap, president of the Minnesota Farm Bureau, said he was able to deliver grain to the Crystal Valley elevator in Vernon Center with minor delays because the normally automated process is offline.
“It’s old school, with handwritten tickets instead of the computer that reads the map on the side of your truck when you drive,” he said.
Cyber security has risen to the top of the Biden administration’s agenda after high-profile attacks that affected the US fuel and food supply.
(Reporting by Tom Polansek; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)