Burritos and Livestock
Ag United Executive Director
July 26, 2013
A few weeks ago the Sioux Falls Business Journal reported that Chipotle, a national Mexican fast food chain, is looking to open a restaurant in Sioux Falls. For those who are not familiar with Chipotle, they have been around since 1992. They started out in Denver and now have about 1,400 locations around the country.
The Sioux Falls Business Journal’s opening paragraph from the June 12 story stated that finding a location for Chipotle was challenging. The company is looking for a space that meets strict requirements on location, size, traffic and other standards. Companies like Chipotle are making a significant investment in a new location, so they want to make sure it is a perfect fit.
Farm families face very similar challenges when looking for a location to build a new livestock or poultry production facility. They have a number of requirements including proximity to current farms, feed supplies, service providers, and others, as well as regulatory requirements on distance from neighbors and towns, soil types, manure applications, days of the week they can apply manure, weather conditions when they apply manure, rain fall measurements, how they depose of dead animals …..you get the point.
And, for most farm families, a new barn or barn expansion is not just one of more than a thousand locations, it is their investment for the future – the expansion that allows additional family members a way to become involved in the farming business. And, if the economics don’t work out, farm families can’t easily close the store or rent the space to another business.
Many times livestock or poultry farmers have found what would look like an ideal location for a new barn, only to be denied as a result of testimony at a permit hearing centered around the ownership of the animals or the type of people who work on the farm or the smell of livestock.
Chipotle gained a lot of attention with a two minute TV ad in 2012 that aired during the Grammy Awards show. The animated ad depicted today’s hog farming and dairy farming in a light that was less than complimentary to the hard work that farm families do each and every day. It implied that farm families do nothing but pump up their animals with antibiotics and dump manure into the streams and rivers. The company’s billboard ads convey the same type of messaging.
Chipotle’s web site covers topics ranging from defining local food sources (within 350 miles) to attacking livestock raised in barns to claiming dairy farm manure lagoons pollute the environment.
Obviously, Chipotle has decided that attacking today’s farming practices is a way to market their burritos. That type of marketing is their choice, just like farm families should have a choice on what responsible farming practices work best for their farm and animals.
We welcome Chipotle to the Sioux Falls market; we hope that they are able to find the ideal location for their store. We also hope that when they get their Sioux Falls restaurant up and running, they will take the opportunity to meet the thousands of area farm families in the area that are producing the dairy products, hogs, cattle and chickens that feed people in South Dakota and around the world. We encourage them to see firsthand the care and effort these families take in providing a safe and nutritious product for consumers.
I will try Chipotle when they get here, but in the meantime I will continue my trips to Taco John’s and Qdoba, because the last time I checked they were not blasting today’s farming practices.