To the Editor:

Last weekend, meatpacking company JBS, which processes almost a quarter of U.S. cattle, was the victim of a ransomware attack. Preparing U.S. ag to defend against cyber attacks is one more burden for ag producers. Unfortunately, costs of not doing so are too high: higher prices, and possible food shortages and tainted food (see June 6, 2021 article, “Cyberattack on food supply followed years of warnings,” at Politico.com).

As a high school social studies and electives teacher with classes in both agriculture and cybersecurity, I’ve seen how these two topics will and now are colliding. Many conservatives highlight personal freedom and the desire to return to simpler times with less government red tape. However, important realities now stare us in the face and require government involvement: climate change (more droughts, early-snowmelt floods and wildfires in Eastern/Southern Oregon), economic trends, worldwide internet and cyber-threats — and pandemics. None respect national, let alone state and county, boundaries.

Since I also teach a national security course, I hope people in Eastern and Southern Oregon will rise to the challenges before us by learning to plan for, adapt to and minimize these threats. The world is moving — if not forward, at least along. Protecting ourselves and our communities from climate change/extreme weather, economic downturns, pandemics and cyber attacks takes courage; practice seeing interconnected realities; and humbleness in learning. Luckily, we have our rural Oregon “can-do” attitude to help.

Raz Mason

The Dalles

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