Give American beef the chance…


Recently, Chipotle announced they were going to begin sourcing beef from Australia because they claimed there was not enough beef in the U.S. to meet their demands. I have nothing against Australia, I think it is a great country with great people…BUT Chipotle is not even giving the American beef farmer/rancher a chance to meet their demands.

cowsongrass
Cows and their calves grazing grass.

If Chipotle is having such success and knew meeting beef demand might be challenging, why didn’t/don’t they have people who find beef farmers/ranchers or put out the call they are looking for beef farmers/ranchers willing and able to raise beef that aligns with their mission (grass-fedno antibiotics and synthetic hormone free), and contract enough beef to meet their demand? As a beef farmer/rancher, you can get in a real bind if you grow beef for a specialized market, and then find out that market will not support you. But if you know the market will support you, and you can support it, then it can be a real win-win.

The 2012 Census of Agriculture report showed that the number of women, Hispanic/Spanish/Latino, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Black/African American agricultural (specifically beef) operators is actually increasing! There are people in America that can and would raise beef that aligned with Chipotle’s mission and goals, which would keep Chipotle (an American company) supporting an American product (beef) through American people! But Chipotle has decided to start sourcing beef from Australia. While Australian beef may fit Chipotle’s model, does the increase in price for beef at a Chipotle restaurant fit into your model? Are you willing to pay more for your meal at Chipolte to cover the costs of the beef, shipping, transport, inspections, and customs costs for beef that has traveled over 8,000 miles?

It doesn’t seem Chipotle is the only one sourcing beef from outside of the U.S. to meet demand. McDonald’s announced it would source “verified sustainable beef” by 2016. Last I heard McDonald’s was unsure where to begin on the issue, and they hadn’t yet defined sustainable, and now they are in serious discussions with Canada about supplying their eateries with Canadian beef? It seems Canada has  several long-running cattle programs in place which make it attractive to McDonald’s.

MeatingPlace reported (June 23, 2014) that beef imports from Australia and Candad went up 26% and 11% respectively, contributing to an increase of beef imports into the US up a total of 6%!

I don’t know about you, but when American companies claim there is not enough beef to support local, I have a hard time supporting them, especially when I know they are lying. I am a fan of supporting local, but importing beef from Australia and Canada is not local in my eyes.  American farmers and ranchers have what it takes to produce enough product for both Chipotle and McDonald’s!

This is a topic that is vitally important not only to me, a person with a deep love for the agricultural industry, but to you, consumers of food from which these companies will make you pay higher prices for their products that CAN and should be be grown and sourced in the USA! If you leave with nothing else, know that American beef farmers/ranchers have the ability and capability to meet the demands of these companies, it is not necessary for them to source beef from other countries!

 

cows eating
Nutritious and Delicious!

 

 

 

 

 

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7 thoughts on “Give American beef the chance…

  1. First let me say I am a Farmer’s Daughter. So of course I know they have the ability and capability of raising “grass-fed, no antibiotic or synthetic hormone beef. But that doesn’t mean they want to. The farmer that bought my Dad’s farm, keeps yearlings in a very small feedlot so they don’t move much. He also feeds them corn by-products from the nearby Ethanol plant – so they don’t even get the full GMO corn. My Dad and I cried one day as we sat in the car reminiscing how happy his yearlings were after they ate his hay with only a little ground corn that he added vitamins too by HAND. And they didn’t stand in their own poop either. You know the saying – those cattle were taken care of better than we were! Maybe Chipotle would buy American beef if American farmers weren’t so stubborn about the way they raise cattle. Sorry, I know farmers are stubborn – remember – I am a Nebraska Farmer’s Daughter. BTW, I also know they don’t eat the cattle they raise in those over crowded filthy feedlots. They eat the ones they raise in the back 80 far off the highway. So those farmers/ranchers don’t feed their children what I have to feed mine now.

    1. Hi Marilyn,
      Thanks for your thoughts. I will respectfully disagree with you. I do believe there are cattle farmers that would certainly grow an organic or natural product if they knew there was a market for it. Research has shown that people indicate they are interested in organic and natural products, but then do not necessarily purchase those products when it comes time to pay the prices. I am not sure about the feedlots you are referring to, but the ones I have seen in Nebraska are not overcrowded or filthy. There are times after a moisture event that the pens can get muddy, but they quickly dry out or are cleaned out. I also disagree that the people raising beef in feedlots do not eat they products they produce. The feedlot owners I know take pride in producing and consuming the beef they raise. I would feel perfectly comfortable consuming beef raised in a Nebraska feedlot any day, as I am confident in the people who raise the product. In case you haven’t checked out Anne Burkholder’s blog – Feedyard Foodie (http://feedyardfoodie.wordpress.com/), I would suggest doing so. Anne does a great job explaining what happens on her feedlot in Nebraska. The Nebraska CommonGround website is also a good place to get additional information (http://commongroundnebraska.com/). Thanks.

  2. Maybe there needs to be a large coalition of farmers/ranchers who are willing to raise to grass-feed, no-antibiotic or synthetic hormone beef? I know there are some who do because I bought our family’s beef, chicken and pork directly from an organic farmer here in Nebraska. I asked him one day, what happens to the beef that is raised the old fashioned way – and he thought the cattle got sold and slaughtered to the same processing plants as cattle that stayed in feedlots their whole life. Just “food for thought” because I thick Chipotle would buy American – no company wants bad publicity! But they need to have a large steady meat provider – otherwise they will lose customers if they can’t be consistent.

    1. Hi Marilyn,
      I agree that a coalition of farmers/ranchers who raise a product that Chipolte wants (and needs) is needed. In California, there is Niman Ranch (http://www.nimanranch.com/Index.aspx) that does just that. I am sure there are others across the country, I am just not as familiar with them. Yes, there are certainly people who raise livestock with no antibiotics, no additional hormones, organic, and/or all-natural. As you mentioned, it is easier to do business with them directly than trying to find their product at the supermarket. The producers I know send their animals to a local meat processor to be harvested, they do not take them to a commercial packing plant – mostly because they do not have the quantity to send a large group of animals at one time. Additionally, at a small, local processing facility the clientele purchasing the product can be very specific in how they want it packaged. I hope that we see more companies that help gather the smaller farmers raising a niche product to meet the demands of eateries like Chipolte. Time will tell 🙂

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