Dear Chipotle CEO Steve Ells,
I realize you are very busy creating your next ad campaign to sling mud at farmers and ranchers across this great country. Although I don't have the advertising budget your company has, I do have friends and family who appreciate beef production.
I understand that even though you don't know us and have never met us, you believe that we are irresponsible beef producers. I would be remiss to not mention that it hurts my feelings that you believe without meeting us or visiting our feedyard that we are irresponsible. I invite you to our feedyard in order to better understand our family business and the beef industry.
My husband and I have moved over 1000 miles to the middle of this country away from everyone and everything we knew just to raise beef for America. We have invested every penny we have into a feedyard that was permitted under condition that we met certain environmental requirements in less than four years. We basically took a deserted feedyard and spent all of our profits now and for the next undetermined amount of years (depending on how many cattle we feed, beef prices, corn prices, etc.) to meet all of the environmental quality standards that the EPA and NDEQ require. This project's total costs were over $500,000. Spending that kind of money on an environmental project that returns no profits back to the feedyard, does kind of make me feel irresponsible. However it was not a decision we made, it was one that the government made for us.
Shortly after we started this environmental project and there was no turning back, corn prices were toying with the $7.00 mark, and a drought hit making the supply of cattle in this country low. This is not comparable in your business as you are able to change the price of your product. Since you are a CEO I am guessing you would understand your profit margins. What I am wondering is if you can grasp the profitability of beef cattle? Did you know statistics say that a growth hormone implant can decrease production costs by 5-10%? I'll give you an example: last year when we were in the middle of this large environmental project, cattle were losing close to $200.00 per head. Without technology, losses would have been more than $220.00 per head. How many times did you lose money last July selling our beef through your burritos?
I am just wondering if you were able to serve a product that was proven scientifically safe, over and over, to make 5-10% more money, would you? I would ask if you would serve that same product to keep from losing 5-10%? We all know you never let a burrito leave your restaurant at a loss. Just like the current "anti American agriculture" campaign that is gaining momentum at virtually no cost to you. I am sure as you source beef from Australia you will pass that price on to your customer, causing no loss for your company.
My only hope is that all Americans that support farmers and ranchers will choose another source for their burritos. As you have turned your back on America they too will turn their back on your restaurant. The question for Americans: are we really willing to pay 10-15% more for a burrito utilizing beef from a natural, grassfed steer, when beef from conventionally-raised steers has proven to be as safe or safer, as healthy or healthier, and is more available domestically?
If you are interested in statistics that have been found through sound science that discuss the amount of beef we would be able to produce with and without hormones, how removing hormones changes Beef's carbon foot print and the choices beef producers offer I recommend this link - Great Plains Livestock Consulting.