More and more food processing plants are going up in flames in the US. Sixteen such incidents have been recorded so far. The background is unclear, but terrorism is being ruled out.
The fact is, however, that the basic needs of the population are massively threatened in some places by these attacks on infrastructure while authorities downplay the incidents.
Throughout the past year, but especially since February 2022, a series of devastating fires in the United States and Canada have destroyed or severely damaged food processing plants – mostly meat plants (slaughterhouses, hog and poultry farms), but also silage and large-scale grain production plants. As a result, there could be food shortages and price increases in many areas.
The damage is catastrophic: an employee of an affected factory in Texas estimates that 50 to 100 truckloads of onions were destroyed there alone. A factory in Oregon was completely destroyed by a boiler explosion and all 244 employees had to be laid off. A fire in California had to evacuate 2 700 people around the affected factory.
Food prices are already at record highs in the US. The Rockefeller Foundation released an analysis of when a “massive, immediate food crisis” could start, and added that it would probably be “in the next six months”. The foundation shares the outlook of the World Economic Forum (WEF), advocating for the “Great Reset”.
Fires and explosions: possible connections
Officially, there are various reasons for the fires: the authorities downplay the possibility of any connections, and the Homeland Security Department does not assume terrorist attacks.
At least one fire in Georgia last week was caused by a plane crashing onto a factory site. Since fires and explosions on factory premises and similar events repeatedly broke out for unknown reasons, some experts also suspect the likelihood of serial perpetrators and targeted attacks.
Food crisis is getting worse
It is undisputed that the never-ending series of incidents will further exacerbate the food crisis, which is also noticeable in the US, as a result of supply chains that are already strained.
In any case, the extent of the damage caused by the destruction in this sensitive key sector cannot yet be quantified; it also depends on how quickly the damaged or completely destroyed facilities can be repaired.
The FBI’s Cyber Division meanwhile published a warning about increased “cyber-attack threats” on agricultural cooperatives.
“Ransomware actors may be more likely to attack agricultural cooperatives during critical planting and harvest seasons, disrupting operations, causing financial loss, and negatively impacting the food supply chain,” the notice read, adding 2021 and early 2022 ransomware attacks on farming co-ops could affect the current planting season “by disrupting the supply of seeds and fertilizer”.
The agency warned, “A significant disruption of grain production could impact the entire food chain, since grain is not only consumed by humans but also used for animal feed … In addition, a significant disruption of grain and corn production could impact commodities trading and stocks. ”