AGRICULTURE NEWS

SOUTH DAKOTA UNIVERSITIES PARTNER ON AGRICULTURE CYBERSECURITY

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem recently signed legislation outlining the use of $1.2 million by South Dakota State University and Dakota State University to create a precision agriculture cybersecurity partnership. According to the legislation, appropriated funds totaling $1.25 million will be split between the two universities to develop undergraduate and graduate curricula, research opportunities and associated outreach programming to address agricultural security threats. The funds will be distributed by the state’s executive director of the board. In terms of the university’s partnership, Crabtree said it makes sense because of Dakota State University’s focus on cybersecurity and South Dakota State University’s involvement with agriculture studies. According to officials from both universities, these threats can vary, but one prominent concern is farming equipment vulnerabilities. “These days, a farmer can sit in his cab in a tractor, push a button and GPS will dictate the movement of the tractor in the field.” Hanson expanded on this, comparing previous water plant cyber attacks to potential agriculture-related threats. According to South Dakota State University Extension Director Karla Trautman, other threats such as compromised rural water systems for irrigation and inputting data for precision planters can also be causes for concern. The greater risk associated with this, Trautman told , is it could trickle down and impact food security and safety, fertilizer percentages, contamination and food production across the board. To combat these potential risks, both universities cited the need for communication and collaboration between each other and the broader agriculture industry. More specifically, Griffiths added, questions about what industry professionals see as potential vulnerabilities should be asked to create and define the research agenda.