Dear Chipotle

Lori Feb 14 A

Lori Stevermer

Recently Chipotle announced that they were going to source their pork from the United Kingdom and loosened their antibiotic standards to do so. Lori Stevermer, President of the Minnesota Pork Producers Association, had this to say to Chipotle: 

 

Dear Chipotle,
I read your recent announcement on your new supplier of pork for your carnitas and I couldn’t help but ask myself what you have against U.S. pig farmers. Your article discusses how your new pork supplier, Karro, a company from the United Kingdom, follows European standards that allow for antibiotics to be administered when necessary to keep an animal healthy. Karro does not give pigs non-therapeutic doses of antibiotics for growth promotion. Your comments go on to state that as a result, some of the pork Chipotle purchases from the UK comes from animals that were treated with antibiotics under veterinary supervision.

That same practice is followed here in the United States by America’s pig farmers. In fact new rules are going into effect that will make it illegal to use antibiotics for growth promotion that are considered medically important. These antibiotics will need to have a veterinary prescription before they can be purchased.

I found the next statement on your website interesting. “But this does not mean that antibiotics are present in the meat. All animals treated with antibiotics (both in Europe and the U.S.) must undergo a withdrawal period before they are slaughtered, which means that meat from a pig treated with antibiotics will not contain antibiotic residue, just like meat from an animal that was never given antibiotics.” All these years you’ve been saying that your pork is better because it comes from farms that never fed antibiotics, but now that you have a supplier that can use antibiotics, you’re admitting there will be no residue and it’s the same as pork from animals never fed antibiotics. It would appear that you have changed your message to fit your situation.

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I was also concerned when I read through the chart comparing “conventionally raised” pork to Chipotle U.S and Chipotle U.K. On the topic of using antibiotics used to treat illness it was listed as an industry standard for conventional pork, but it’s prohibited by Chipotle U.S and used only when necessary by Chipotle U.K. Please tell me what I’m supposed to do when my pig gets sick. Not give it medicine to make it better? Let it get sick and die? All your earlier discussion of humane treatment seems to be a bit hypocritical if I can’t treat a sick animal with medicine.

At the top of your website is the phrase “Food with Integrity”. Given the examples I listed above, it makes me wonder how Chipotle defines integrity. It makes me question who Chipotle uses as a source of industry information. I know many farmers who treat animals humanely and give them antibiotics only when they are sick and keep their pigs in the barns to protect them from freezing temperatures and scorching heat. Those farmers live right here in the U.S. Chipotle, have you taken the time to talk to them?

Integrity means your actions match your words and I’m sorry Chipotle, but that’s just not the case with you anymore. Your actions seems to change depending on the situation and then the story changes to match the situation. You say there’s not enough pork raised in the U.S. to meet your standards for “Responsibly Raised” meats. If you want your animals raised a particular way, that’s your decision to help differentiate your company. However, don’t insinuate that the farmers who use a different production practice aren’t treating their animals humanely. If you want to buy pork from another country that’s your choice. However, as a consumer I prefer to support restaurants and eating establishments that support and promote U.S. agriculture.

You see Chipotle, I like Food with Integrity too and you just don’t have it.

Country of Origin Labeling

IMG_0123On May 18th the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled that the United States implementation of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) is illegal. The National Pork Producers Council and the Minnesota Pork Producers Association has been steadfast in opposing COOL as written and have warned of impending tariffs that will come if the legislation is not fixed. We urged you to contact Senator Klobuchar and Franken and your member of the U.S. House of Representatives to address this issue now. If not the U.S. risks retaliation which could lower prices paid to farmers because of trade distribution. Dr. Steve Meyer has written a very good overview of the issue and its consequences.  

Click Here to Read Dr. Steve Meyer’s Overview of COOL

MPPA Grills Pork Chops on a Stick for State Legislators

Representative Bob Gunther hosted his annual I-90 picnic with most Minnesota House and Senate membersin attendance. The Minnesota Pork Producers Association grilled pork chops on a stick and served the food to the state legislature. This gave members the chance to discuss state legislative issues. Bill Crawford (Fairmont), Adam Barka (Sleepy Eye), Jay Moore (Jackson), and David Preisler (MPPA Executive Director) represented MPPA at the grilling.

“The annual event is highly anticipated by Legislators because of the great food and conversation,” said Preisler.

 

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L to R: Jay Moore, Bill Crawford and Representative Bob Gunther

Senators and Representatives enjoyed their pork chop on a stick

 

DNR Water Permits for Livestock Farms

Many of you have seen news coverage regarding DNR “sweeps” of farms checking for well permits. The Minnesota Pork Producers Association (MPPA) is meeting with the DNR the end of April to discuss the guidelines that are being used to determine if a farm needs a permit.

The MPPA contends that the DNR guidance document is over 30 years old and does not reflect the technology used in barns today for watering and bio-security. In the case of finishing pigs the DNR estimates are over three times the actual amount being used. Our calculations show that a 2,400 head finishing site without household or other uses will use just under one million gallons per year. The one million is important because it triggers the need for a general permit from the DNR.

For farms that that use 1-5 million gallons per year the general permit application cost is $100 with yearly fee of $140. The farm must also keep monthly usage records and report them once a year by February 15th. If a farm uses more than five million gallons per year an individual permit is issued and the cost is $150.

If your farm is hooked onto rural water there is no permit required regardless of the usage since you are paying for the water and the rural water system is maintaining the permit. The only thing to remember is that some farmers have dual systems. We will keep you informed of any future changes and will continue to advocate on your behalf to have the DNR use correct information. 

More information on permits and applications 

Pork Day at the Capitol

Last week pig farmers from across the state met at the capitol to discuss issues impacting the pork industry. Agriculture research was a main topic of conversation. Bill HF 779 would invest $37.5 million in various research programs with the primary goal of building staff capacity. Other topics of discussion included the vet diagnostic lab and the new isolation unit near the diagnostic lab at the University of Minnesota, along with the truck washes and a nuisance bill protecting farms from public and private claims if the farm meets all standards in law. Click Here to Review the Legislative Agenda 

 “I believe having a few minutes with our Representatives and Senators where we have their undivided attention to express our commitment to the issues we are asking them to support is important,” said Larry Liepold a pig farmer from Okabena. 


“It is an additional reminder as to what the pork industry adds to the economy in the form of jobs both on and off the farm, adding value to grains and oil seed, and contributing revenue through the marketing of our product.” 

 

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