Neb. Farm Bureau vs. Chipotle in ‘Scarecrow’ battle

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click image to zoom Chipotle’s “Scarecrow” film didn’t make any friends in the agricultural world, and one farm bureau is speaking up.

In a recent statement, Steve Nelson, president of the Nebraska Farm Bureau, challenged the Mexican restaurant’s move to slam production agriculture.

“The Scarecrow campaign perpetuates two of the greatest fallacies of modern food production,” said Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson in a statement. “The first being the myth of the American ‘factory farm’, the second being that people involved in raising food care only about profit and do so at the expense of their animals and our natural resources.”

Chipotle responded to the statement, explaining that the film isn’t intended to be taken literally.

“’The Scarecrow’ film is a symbolic cautionary tale that depicts a future world where all food is processed and the ingredients come only from industrialized sources,” Chipotle spokeswoman Danielle Winslow told the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star via email.

“The film simply invites viewers to question where we are heading as a society,” she adds, “and to think more about where our food comes from and how it is prepared."

Steve NelsonNebraska Farm BureauSteve Nelson, President of the Nebraska Farm Bureau But Nelson contends that the film and corresponding game do nothing but paint “a picture of a society where food is raised and manufactured by a faceless corporate food system, using scarecrows as a mindless labor force to cover the harsh treatment of farm animals behind closed doors.”

“There are very real issues of hunger, food insecurity and challenges of feeding a growing population. These challenges are reflected in the various methods in which food is raised to ensure there are food choices for people at a variety of price points,” said Nelson. “The Chipotle campaign and video ignores these issues and, in the process, disparages farm and ranch families who care very much about the well-being of their fellow man, the animals in their care and the land and natural resources entrusted to them.”

“Chipotle’s motto is ‘Food with Integrity.’ Farm Bureau and its members share in that belief, but it is clear there are differences of opinion in how that is defined. We are open and willing to start a dialogue about what that truly means for all people who remain in need of the crops and livestock Farm Bureau members raise,” he adds.

Click here to read the statement or here to listen to Nelson's interview on the Nebraska Farm Bureau webiste.

Nelson isn’t alone. Since the film was released in September, many farmers, ranchers and their supporters have readily voiced their opinions. Read, “Dear Chipotle: Farmers respond to ‘scarecrow’ ad.

Some have taken to Chipotle’s own Facebook page to speak up:

“It is sad.. that a company would take a shot at the hard working people of america, to create a sappy, misleading commercial. Very sad. Anyone who saw the commercial, or the game, do research. Don't let chipotle create your view of agriculture. Last night, I was up thinking of the name of my next calf that will be born. Sounds rather caring doesn't it? Farmers care about their animals,” one comment said.

“I will NEVER eat with you again! You have just slapped EVERY farmer in the face! You have just shown your true colors with this utterly disrespectful "marketing" video!” one farming advocate wrote.

“There are literally millions of people involved in agriculture from farm to plate. You are demonizing people that are honest and hardworking, simply because you disagree philosophically with the way they produce food. I know cattle feedlots that contract cattle through packing houses for YOUR beef supply, and I think you're misleading the public,” another commented.

Read more here.

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VT  |  October, 30, 2013 at 08:41 AM

I think the anger that farmers feel towards the ad is a little over the top. Chipotle happens to buy food from, guess who, farmers. I am more angered by the retaliation in this article that starts with an ad for a pharmaceutical drug and finishes with talking about consumers not knowing where their food comes from. These consumers are the people who buy your products. I have heard many Ag industry articles reference the fact that consumers do not understand where their food comes from, and I agree. I believe the Ag industry should be more open to showing the consumers where their food comes from. I believe the Ag industry should show how much of the potential food in the ground is actually used for ethanol. I also believe that farmers should show how much government subsidies they are receiving. I believe that consumers should know how many illegal immigrants went into producing their food. While we are at it, the Ag industry should show how much water it uses to irrigate the crops. Put some of these facts in an ad and you won't need to worry about Chipotle bashing farmers.

STL  |  October, 30, 2013 at 09:22 AM

@VT - you are partially right and farmers have no issues showcasing what and how they do things. Unfortunately they don't have the time or money that companies like Chipotle have to get their message out. As for subsidies, that is all public record but look beyond the total. Keep in mind that Food Stamps and welfare payments fall under the previous Farm Bill and is a major reason that the Ag industry is pushing to have those items removed from the next Farm Bill. Perhaps you should encourage your local congressman to support agriculture by not attaching food stamps to the farm bill, leading to the miss-representation of the amount of subsidies that farmers actually get. As for ethanol, people aren't going hungry due to a lack of food being available. If your concerned about people not getting enough to eat, I encourage you to donate to a local food bank. My number one suggestion above all else, instead of the beach for your next vacation, take the family to a farm. Experience first hand what and how farming is conducted today. I'm sure they would be glad you did.

Bea Elliott    
Florida  |  October, 30, 2013 at 11:52 AM

I don't think that people are ignorant about where meat, dairy and eggs come from. In fact during the last ten years the internet has made available an explosion of information and documentation that was previously kept hidden from the public. Frankly, there are so many now known issues about these animal-based foods such as antibiotic resistance, food borne illnesses and horrific animal treatment, that it's no wonder why people are suspicious about being kept in the dark before now. If I knew then what I know as fact today, I would have withdrawn my support from the animal-ag end of "food" long ago. However of course because I still eat - I put my money in foods that reflect my concern for my health, for the environment and for other beings that I share the planet with. My local produce farmers are benefiting from my knowledge. This is hardly "an end" to agriculture - It's just a long over due change for the better.

kansas  |  October, 30, 2013 at 12:10 PM

First, Thank you Mr. Nelson and Farm Bureau for standing for us in the face of the onslaught of false advertising and Alinskyite demonization of our livelihood by smarmy corporate marketers and radical eco/animal rights propagandists who now have a firm grip on the popular culture via their media allies. While we may be late to the game in educating the grotesquely ignorant urban consumer regarding modern farming practices, and need to do better, we cannot allow rampant lies and misinformation to go unchallenged as we do a better job of connecting to our customers. KB in VT is a perfect example of the "low-information" consumer/voter who's been "converted" by the carefully and professionally crafted emotion-based "messaging" (aka, advertising/aka, propaganda) from these anti-modern ag marketers (in both corporate practices & eco/rights groups). To VT specifically I say, "Guess what, Chipolte has admitted it buys food from the very producers and processors they demonize and denigrate in 'ScareCrow"... because they have to in order to supply their massive chain of stores." What does that make them?... I believe Liars & Hypocrites would be good word choices. What do you think? As to the rest of your "questions" VT? They are obvious regurgitations of inflammatory, and questionable, reports from "advocacy" groups and media who profit by spreading misinformation and creating panic to enrich their organizations or promote their own alternative, but not superior, products.

kansas  |  October, 30, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Queen Bea Troll, from Florida, is obviously a deeply involved and knowledgeable farmer, stockman and ag expert whose vast hands-on experience with farming practices and livestock handling makes her the Perfect Judge of whether urban consumers know & understand where their food comes from and how it's produced. In addition, her years of experience as a microbiologist, pharmacologist, epidemiologist and veterinarian make her opinions unimpeachable! Her benevolence in allowing her "local farmers" to "Benefit from Her knowledge" is awe-inspiring, and I'm sure the mentally-challenged knuckle-dragging rustics who till her "local" soils simply worship the ground she ever so lightly treads upon. I'm morally uplifted by this angel from heaven who's vast knowledge & superior morals are helping us all "change for the better". We all bow deeply and thank the heavens for the gift of Bea!

VT  |  October, 30, 2013 at 02:24 PM

Michael, I think you need to take a lesson in customer service. Bea and I are both customers. When people ask to see information, you get aggressive and tell them they are wrong. Not a good way to get customers. You may think that you do not need to worry about customer service since you are farming a commodity, and you are incorrect. Folks like you give other farmers a bad rap. I also realize that you have no idea how much information I know about the US agricultural industry. I work in the industry. You are correct that Chipotle mis-informs the public. I don't think the scarecrow ad was accurate, as I have seen many good things happening on farms around America. The Farm Smart Program is a good example of farmers giving the public some of the information they want. There are also some major issues with the US agriculture industry that need to be addressed. A major one is the use of fresh water for crop irrigation. If we do not change something here, the US will use up all of its groundwater.

Thom Katt    
Midwest  |  October, 30, 2013 at 04:20 PM

Good suggestion about the vacation Eric! Fair Oaks Farms Dairy Adventure and Pig Adventure are located with in driving distance of the Chicago and Indianapolis international airports and well with the time to visit. These are top notch educational vacations and there is plenty of other vacation stuff to do in the area.

Thom Katt    
Midwest  |  October, 30, 2013 at 04:20 PM

Good suggestion about the vacation Eric! Fair Oaks Farms Dairy Adventure and Pig Adventure are located with in driving distance of the Chicago and Indianapolis international airports and well with the time to visit. These are top notch educational vacations and there is plenty of other vacation stuff to do in the area.

Thom Katt    
Midwest  |  October, 30, 2013 at 04:21 PM

Good suggestion about the vacation Eric! Fair Oaks Farms Dairy Adventure and Pig Adventure are located with in driving distance of the Chicago and Indianapolis international airports and well with the time to visit. These are top notch educational vacations and there is plenty of other vacation stuff to do in the area.

Thom Katt    
Midwest  |  October, 30, 2013 at 04:21 PM

Good suggestion about the vacation Eric! Fair Oaks Farms Dairy Adventure and Pig Adventure are located with in driving distance of the Chicago and Indianapolis international airports and well with the time to visit. These are top notch educational vacations and there is plenty of other vacation stuff to do in the area.

October, 30, 2013 at 04:28 PM

Bea, you know that much of the internet food produciton information is tilted or even false. You know that because you have helped spread a lot of it to advance your vegan agenda. As far as you putting you money toward things that reflect your concerns, well, everybody has that right. But people don't really consider themselves to be related to animals and most people don't share your atheists\pagan spirituality. Frankly, food information wasn't really hidden from consumers. They just didn't make any effort to find out. They can get good food at a reasonable price without it interupting their already busy routine so they are happy. Most consumers don't have your liesurely lifestyle.

Craig Freitas    
Fresno, Ca  |  October, 30, 2013 at 07:02 PM

While there are a few of us farmers that care for our livestock like the rest of the family, for every one responsible farmer there are 2 or 3 that exploit animals and the land for profit only. Do you really think those farmers are member of the farm bureau and following ethical practices. If you are that naïve sit at an auction sale and see how people treat their own livestock unloading it. More needs to be done to bring the WHOLE livestock industry up to the standards of the top few responsible individuals.

NY  |  October, 31, 2013 at 10:08 PM

I know if I read it on the internet it has to be true, I mean it is there in black and white. Bea you need to look at who is writing the story.

SD  |  November, 02, 2013 at 07:35 PM

KB Chipoltle made $457.7 m before taxes in 2012, so any concerns about a farmer's profit motive should be limited- You complain about farmers who produce the food and the subsidies they receive, or the fact we are trying to run profitable businesses. Chipoltle management has capitalized on the consumer's complete disconnect from agriculture. Don't think what they are doing has anything to do but to scare you into believing what they serve is superior. The food they serve is not superior, nor worth the extra price. As to your complaints on subsidies, they have dropped to very little as a percentage of total cost. As a dairy, we are losing a lot of money in 2013 due to extremely high feed prices, thus I'm subsidizing the consumer. If you understood the amount of capital at risk and the limited return at the best of times, you would wonder why any farmer does it. Perhaps we should all quit and let you feed yourselves. There is about 1 tillable acre per person, so we'll rent you an acre and let you feed yourself. Good Luck.

Bea Elliott    
Florida  |  November, 04, 2013 at 01:16 PM

Hi... (?) I have no idea to whom I'm responding to as you didn't leave your name. Oh well, I'll do fine replying to "nobody". I have no issue with my vegan "agenda". Everyone has or should have a position they wish to promote and defend... Like the song says - If you don't stand for something - You'll fall... Well, you get the idea. And certainly you have a position as well - It's to promote the consumption of meat. There's no secret to what financial investments that agenda extends to either. ***** But you do know that we are "related" to nonhumas though - Right? The best science can clearly vouch for that. ***** Now... If you're going to resort to attacking my belief system... Can you pick one or the other so I can defend myself? According to you I am "spiritual", an atheist or a pagan. I can't be all of them at once! ***** Finally what in the world would make you ASSume that I have a leisurely life? My hours, days and years stay just as full as anyone else's. We all use what spare time we have to focus on those things that matter to us. Justice and reason matter to me. I have no shame or regret for pursuing any and every goal that gets me to that end. And if it means sharing my knowledge with others who don't have the extra luxury of time to research on their own - I'm more than happy to oblige. Cheers.

Bea Elliott    
Florida  |  November, 04, 2013 at 01:18 PM

I'm not out to defend Chipoltle. I'm out to promote a vegan "agenda". Happily so. ;)

Bea Elliott    
Florida  |  November, 04, 2013 at 01:25 PM

Hi michael - I don't have to be a pilot to observe when a plane is about to crash. There's nothing in the animal-products industry that doesn't bode ill-fare for human health, for the environment or for other animals. Sorry you feel so threatened that you had to resort to ad hominem attacks and rather rude rhetoric. My morals aren't any more "superior" than any one's. We all have the same capacity to be kind and thoughtful. I feel for your hostility... It must be a painful place to be. Peace.

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