Ag Groups Disagree with Chipotle Ad

An ad from burrito chain Chipotle has been a topic of discussion in many social media forums this week after it debuted on national television.

The ad also has some Nebraska ag groups buzzing because they say it distorts the way farms and ranches produce food.

Chipotle says the two-minute short film commissioned by the company features the "life of a farmer as he slowly turns his family farm into an industrial animal factory before seeing the errors of his ways and opting for a more sustainable future."

The Nebraska Farm Bureau says ads like "Back to the Start" promote an anti-modern day farm agenda and distort the reality of agriculture.

"Moving backwards to an organic type setting in agriculture is a prescription for hunger because we have to feed the world," said Nebraska Farm Bureau Chief Administrator Rob Robertson. "We're going to have two billion more people in the next 30-40 years to feed and you can't go backwards with productivity, you have to go forward on the farm."

The Farm Bureau feels that the ad is misleading in its depiction of animal treatment.

"Farmers and ranchers care and have more compassion than anyone for animals," said Robertson, who wrote a blog about the ad after it debuted online last fall. "Moving them inside I think you have less death, you have less disease, less bacteria, and a lot more care for the animals, so we just think it's the opposite, it's more humane than less."

Chipotle officials argue that organic farming systems are sustainable, and reflect the company's stance on product selection.

In an email Chipotle Communications Director Chris Arnold said "Our 'Back to the Start' short film illustrates that there are differences in how food is produced, and states our preference for food from more sustainable sources. Through the choices we make, we are showing that you can serve food from these better sources in a way that is affordable and accessible to everyone."

Though it's been out for several months, the ad has been getting a lot of attention after it was nationally televised during the Grammy Awards.

Most central Nebraskans that NCN spoke with hadn't seen the ad on TV, but after watching it had differing opinions on its meaning.

"If people watch it they may get it, but if they don't have the ag background and don't understand that these folks are the ones that are producing the grain to make the bread, to bring it to the table," said Glenda Kahler of Grand Island.

"I kind of hope that you know home grown food still stays around, I don't want it all just to be mass manufactured in factories and what not," said Mitchell Howells, also of Grand Island.

Others say that kind of advertising doesn't change their buying habits.

"To me it's personal preference," said Shelly Berggren of Grand Island. "Like I said I don't search out "free-range" meat products. I would like to self-educate myself more about what I'm buying."

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