Farm Bureau President speaks against Chipotle ads

The Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation is warning the public of advertisements that attack farming and other agricultural practices.

“They’re easy to spot because there are so few of them, particularly on television,” stated the Bureaus’ weekly President’s Column. “One that’s always easy to spot is any commercial for the Chipotle Mexican Grill. The Colorado-based taco chain rarely advertises on TV and anything the company posts to the web almost always creates buzz.”

For any business, buzz is a good thing, but when the buzz reflects poorly on agriculture, the Farm Bureau draws the line.

“If you’ve never seen a Chipotle ad or dined in one of its restaurants, the company’s promos almost always denounce America’s so-called factory farms and tout the chain’s use of ‘proper’ beef, chicken and pork products on its menu,” the President’s Column continued. “Food with Integrity is its slogan.

In short, Chipotle says it sources its protein from farmers who treat their animals with respect, raise them naturally and house them humanely.  Then slaughters them.

Yes, animals have to die so we can eat them.

In its defense, Chipotle understands this, but rarely does it include this image in its animated web and TV spots. The ads always have a way of making secular production agriculture look like the bad guy. The current animated commercial is no different.

The latest web offering from Chipotle follows an animated scarecrow as he spends a day at an evil “factory farm.”  During his work day he witnesses cows trapped in tiny pens, chickens being “plumped up” with injections and machines churning out what the video calls pure “beef-ish” products.

Needless to say, the scarecrow is worried and saddened by these events. At the end of the video, he returns home to harvest fresh produce from his modest garden. He picks one hot pepper, one yellow bell pepper and turns the ingredients into a wholesomepita burrito, just like the ones sold at Chipotle restaurants.

More than 5.6 million web viewers have watched the video since it was uploaded Sept. 11.

(What a rice or sugarcane grower wouldn’t give for those numbers.)

At the heart of the Chipotle commercial is a message: factory farms practice animal cruelty, are poisoning consumers and the public shouldn’t be taken in by their glossy exteriors just because they feed us.

First, here are some facts about Chipotle restaurants, as reported by Louisiana Farm Bureau:

The company used to advertise that 100 percent of its beef was sourced from “responsible ranchers.”  Today that number stands at 85 percent. The reason? Cost. Higher cattle prices over the last two years have driven up both the wholesale and retail price for beef. So how do you maintain your 30 percent profit margin when your primary input increases 15 percent? Easy. Reduce your overhead 15 percent. Simple economics. Simpler math.

And even though Chipotle is 20 years old, many have never heard of it. Why?  Because like any global enterprise, it takes awhile to see one on every corner.

Other Chipotle facts:  As a fast food restaurant, its menu is expensive compared to restaurants like Taco Bell. A Chipotle steak burrito is $6.65. At Taco Bell it’s $4.99. But price doesn’t matter to the socially conscious consumer, does it?  Eat it because it’s the right thing to do. The question isn’t whether you can afford to, but rather, can you afford not to?

All this is not to say there’s something wrong with farmers who raise organic crops and livestock or those who provide free-range options for pork or fowl. The Farm Bureau organization represents all farmers and ranchers. But when a restaurant chain vilifies one sector of agriculture to the perceived “benefits” of another, that’s when some common sense needs to be dished out.

Here are some facts about American production agriculture.

First, America is the largest producer of soybeans in the world, also leading the world in cotton, grain and protein production. Every American farmer feeds 150 people around the world.

And you don’t become the world’s largest food producer by growing one hot pepper, one yellow bell pepper and turning into a burrito to feed the multitudes.

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Posted by on Sep 28 2013. Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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