In the following days after Chipotle Mexican Grill’s official statement announcing their plans to import Australian grass-fed beef to meet their “Food With Integrity” and “Responsibly Raised Beef” standards because United States cattle ranchers were not able to meet the demand, cattle producers and industry leaders have taken the time to speak up about the situation.

“As Texas Agriculture Commissioner, I truly appreciate the past efforts made by Chipotle to support family farms and your company’s dedication to serving locally-grown products. However, I am shocked by your recent decision to start serving meat that’s been shipped in from more than 8,000 miles away. I also was dismayed by your misguided and irresponsible declaration that this meat is somehow more “responsibly raised” than meat produced by Texas ranchers. American consumers deserve better,” wrote Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples in a June 16 letter to Chipotle’s founder, chairman and Co-CEO, Steve Ells. “I personally invite you and the Chipotle team to meet face-to-face with myself and other Texas beef industry leaders to discuss how we can help supply Chipotle’s growing demand for fresh, healthy beef. After all, Texas beef would not have to travel thousands of miles and leave a substantial carbon footprint before ending up in a Chipotle burrito.”

Two California ranchers, Darrell Wood, an organic, grass-finished beef producer, and Darrel Sweet, a conventional beef producer, have spoken openly and clearly on the Facts About Beef Blog about the differences in their methods and how the environment dictates what practices they are able to utilize. For example, Wood has summer and winter pasture available for his grass-fed operation, while 185 miles south, Sweet’s grass remains dormant six months out of the year, making it essential he uses conventional methods in order to meet his goals.

“My pastures are green only six months out of the year, the other six months they are dormant or brown. If I were to produce grass-fed beef I would have two options, I would need to cut my herd size in half in order to allow for enough feed or I would need to stock feed accordingly when the grass is dry. Both options would not be economically viable for my business, ultimately leading to the end of our farm a farm that I am the 5th generation to work on; my grandchildren are the 7th generation,” says Sweet.

“Raising responsible beef means being a good steward of the resources you have. In some cases that means raising cattle on grass and finishing them on grain, like my friend Darrel. It really boils down to the quality of the grass pastures available to you and whether the grass grows year-round,” says Wood. “Both Sweet and I are involved in this type of work on our ranches through an organization called The California Rangeland Trust. We realized a number of years back, with urban encroachment we, as ranchers, needed to do more to protect open space and endangered species. One of the best ways to utilize this land is through cattle grazing. I would love for Mr. Ells to call me or visit my ranch to learn more about how beef is raised and discuss his options for providing responsibly raised beef to Chipotle customers.”

How to join the discussion

State Beef Council’s and advocacy groups such as the Masters of Beef Advocacy (MBA) have issued action alerts to members, giving tips on how to appropriately speak up about their concerns and tell their story.

The MBA is a Checkoff funded program providing free course work to applicants on beef industry facts and how to effectively advocate for the beef industry.

The following action plan includes:

What You Can Do:

  • Please share the Facts About Beef post through your different online properties (Facebook, Twitter, blogs).
  • Below are some sample tweets and Facebook posts that you can use. We have also included some messages that you can incorporate into your social media conversations or blog posts.  

Sample Social Media posts:

  • SHARE ONLINE:
  • Share the FactsAboutBeef.com blog post through your social properties. If you are a state partner, we encourage you to share this through your organization company properties, as well as your personal social properties.
  • Twitter Strategy: Tweet @Chipotle, encouraging the restaurant to #CallDarrell at 951-389-4FWI for their beef needs.
  • Recommended Twitter posts, utilizing the hashtag #CallDarrell and the phone number 951-389-4FWI:
    • Hey @Chipotletweets, want responsibly raised beef? #CallDarrell at 951-389-4FWI More info: http://bit.ly/1ktZaa2
    • Beef producers raise responsible beef and can supply.  For more info @chipotletweets, #CallDarrel 951-389-4FWI More info: http://bit.ly/1ktZaa2
  • Facebook Strategy:
  • Recommended Facebook post:
    • Myth: Beef producers can't meet Chipotle's define of responsible raised beef.
      Fact: Beef producers are happy to supply Chipotle's needs.
      If you agree - please share this post with your followers.
       http://bit.ly/1ktZaa2
  • WRITE A LETTER:
    • Write a letter to Chipotle (whether you are a grass-finished or grain-finished beef producer) explaining how you raise responsible beef and offer to supply Chipotle with responsibly-raised beef. Send a copy of your letter to FYI@beef.org so that we can track how many letters are sent and how many producers reach out.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc.

Attn: Steve Ells, co-CEO

1401 Wynkoop St Suite 500

Denver, CO 80202

  • Submit a comment to Chipotle online explaining how you raise responsible beef and offer to supply Chipotle's stores with beef that was raised with integrity. Send a copy of your comment to FYI@beef.org so we can track how many are submitted.
  • Comment on the Huffington Post announcement and offer to supply Chipotle with beef.

Key Messages:

  • The beef community wants to have a conversation with companies and organizations that are making business decisions when it comes to beef because we're committed to being part of the solution.
  • The United States is a world leader when it comes to responsibly raising high-quality and safe beef and we raise a variety of beef choices, from grain-finished to grass-finished, organic to naturally-raised.
  • There are more than 800,000 cattle farmers and ranchers who raise beef in the United States who are always happy to have conversations about the needs of customers, including Chipotle, and find ways to meet their sourcing needs. We're disappointed that Chipotle is suggesting that they can't find adequate supply of responsibly-raised domestically and we'd like to talk with them about their challenges and see how we can be part of the solution.
  • Consumers and customers can feel good about buying beef because all beef producers are committed to responsibly raising high-quality, safe beef that they're proud to serve to their own families.