Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Divest Chipotle: Vote with your $$$

As Chipotle continues to release their "Farmed and Dangerous" advertisements, I continue to promote the message that people should boycott from eating at their restaurants and now encouraging consumers and especially family farms to divest of their stock (NYSE: CMG). Last week, I had our investment advisor verify that none of our retirement was invested in mutual funds that hold Chipotle stock. Thankfully we didn't. I shared my blog and concerns with another investment broker I knew. After watching Chipotle's commercial, they sold off quite a bit of CMG stock the next day, despite it being a good investment. Divestment is more important than holding the stock of a profitable company who lies about and earns profits off of the backs of family farms.  I've encouraged the agriculture boards that I serve on to divest from funds holding Chipotle and published a letter to the editor asking others to do the same.

How to divest:
1) call your financial advisor and ask them to verify that any investments you have in mutual funds do not hold CMG funds. If they do, sell off those mutual funds and find others without CMG stock.
2) look at your copy of your mutual fund prospectus or bring it up online and review the stock that they're invested in. Sell them if they hold CMG shares.
3) If you own shares of CMG stock as part of your investment portfolio, sell those shares.

Let's be clear here, Chipotle knows what's at stake. They acknowledge so in their 2012 annual report:

"In addition, our marketing has increasingly incorporated elements intended to encourage customers to question sources or production methods commonly used to produce food. These elements of our marketing could alienate food suppliers and may potentially lead to an increased risk of disputes or litigation if suppliers or other constituencies believe our marketing is unfair or misleading. Increased costs in connection with any such issues, or any deterioration in our relationships with existing suppliers, could adversely impact us."

Farm friends, Chipotle laid the groundwork for us, they themselves acknowledge their marketing plan for "Farmed and Dangerous" could adversely impact them and I submit to you that it's our duty as farmers and supporters of agriculture to do exactly that, by boycotting their restaurants and divesting their stock. We cannot only give lip service to disliking their campaign, we need to follow through by voting with our dollars. Just as any consumer, we can choose not to be part of their marketing ploy by opting out of their food and their stock.

Below is my recent letter to the editor of the Delmarva Farmer. I encourage other farmers to write similar letters to their Ag media sources as well as their commodity boards and farm organizations.

(Editor’s note: The writer, Jennie  Schmidt is vice president of the Maryland Grain Producers Utilization Board.)

(Feb. 25, 2014) I am putting out the call for readers of The Delmarva Farmer to boycott Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants and to divest from their stock.
Recently, they launched an advertising campaign titled “Farmed and Dangerous” on Hulu which is a web-based TV and movie channel.
It is a four-part satire supposedly representing today’s modern family farms, which Chipotle says are “dangerous.”
It’s not so much a comedy, but a highly charged, offensive campaign to make consumers believe lies about how their food is produced and all that is “wrong” in agriculture today.
This is not the first time this fast food restaurant chain has targeted family farmers.
Last year they launched “The Scarecrow” campaign which also targeted agriculture, demonizing family farms as “industrial” and “factory” farms.
USDA data shows that 97 percent of all U.S. farms are family owned and operated.
Chipotle is a good example of double-speak in attempting this “big” campaign to redefine itself as “small.”
Established in 1993, Chipotle has expanded to more than 1,500 restaurants and ranks second only to Taco Bell in the Top 50 Quick Service Restaurants in the Mexican food segment.
Chipotle’s fourth quarter 2013 profits increased 20.7 percent to $844 million.
Let’s be clear, if there is “Big” in food and agriculture, it is Chipotle, not the U.S. farmers supplying them.
Chipotle recognizes they may alienate the very people who supply the food to their restaurant.
In their 2012 annual stockholders report they state “we invest in marketing and advertising strategies that we believe will increase customers’ connection with our brand.
“In addition, our marketing has increasingly incorporated elements intended to encourage customers to question sources or production methods commonly used to produce food. These elements of our marketing could alienate food suppliers and may potentially lead to an increased risk of disputes or litigation if suppliers or other constituencies believe our marketing is unfair or misleading. Increased costs in connection with any such issues, or any deterioration in our relationships with existing suppliers, could adversely impact us.”
We the agricultural community need to let Chipotle know how we feel about their “Farmed and Dangerous.
Our farming community needs to take action against Chipotle by doing two things: Boycott their restaurants, and divesting their stock.
Check with your investment advisor to see if mutual funds in your investment portfolio hold Chipotle stock (NYSE: CMG) and divest from that fund if they do.
If you own Chipotle stock, sell it.
It makes no sense for us as farmers to complain about their advertising campaigns and yet be one of their investors.
If you serve on a commodity board or other farm organization, encourage the board to divest any funds they may hold that include Chipotle.
We need to put our money where our mouth is.
Let this taco joint know it does not have moral authority over family farms. Boycott and divest Chipotle.

—Jennie Schmidt

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