February 19, 2014

Official Response to Chipotle regarding the "Farmed and Dangerous" series and joint fundraiser on February 20, 2014

After significant discussion among the Center for Land-Based Learning's Board of Directors, we are canceling a scheduled fundraising event with Chipotle, set for Thursday, February 20, 2014. Chipotle has been a strong supporter of Land-Based Learning programs, and we have appreciated Chipotle's partnership and enthusiasm for our mission. However, the Board unanimously feels that Chipotle's current ""Farmed and Dangerous"" mini-series crosses a line by fostering animosity toward production agriculture. This strategy hurts agriculture at all levels, not just large-scale production agriculture.

The Land-Based Learning board represents a broad range of leaders in the community, including farmers, educators, financial professionals, and policy experts. Land-Based Learning is not dedicated to any particular farming approach; instead, we aim, through education, to produce future leaders in agriculture, whether small or large, organic or conventional.

We are disappointed in Chipotle's "Farmed and Dangerous" series. Land-Based Learning has always advocated for an open and honest dialogue about agricultural production; accordingly, we agree with Chipotle's goal to promote critical thinking and discussion about the sources of our food. Chipotle's previous contributions to the discussion have been challenging and provocative in a positive way. We disagree, however, with the tone and approach of this new series, which appears designed to divide the agricultural community into big production (inherently malevolent) and small production (inherently virtuous). This is a false choice. Rather than educate the community about where its food comes from, we view the series as pitting some farms against other farms and inaccurately portraying the overwhelming majority of responsible food production operations.

The reality is that production agriculture is large and small, organic and conventional, and everything in between. Our programs, which educate high-school students about agriculture, conservation and sustainability on working farms and ranches throughout the state, are strongly supported by a wide range of agricultural interests, all of whom see the value in education and training for a new generation of farmers and leaders in California. We have no doubt that this diversity of supporters is one of our greatest strengths as an organization.

The Land-Based Learning leadership team has scheduled a meeting with Chipotle's senior management to personally convey this message, to attempt to understand the reasoning behind the "Farmed and Dangerous" series, and to request that Chipotle reconsider its divisive marketing strategy. Through constructive dialogue with Chipotle, it is our hope that their campaign might be transformed to promote productive discussion on the values we share related to a healthy and sustainable food supply.

For additional information, please contact:
Mary Kimball, Executive Director
(530) 795-1520
Andrea Clark, Board Chair
(916) 520-5424