By Layne and Jamie Chapman
Feral chickens, hand-pulled kale and a steer fed to perfection that is marketed in its home state. What do they all have in common? Capitalism.
These products were introduced into a functioning market to better a company’s financial standing and to capitalize on a situation. They are also part of modern agriculture. Grocery stores of all kinds have found different routes of product differentiation and market themselves according to what they think the consumer needs. The new consumer is targeted well after the raw products have left the hands of a farmer or rancher, who are commonly so removed from the consumer that they are often misrepresented by the advertising of the product. The ones determining how the end product is situated in the market are no more connected to the product than the chicken that came in the bag.
Enter Chipotle. I don’t know why there is concern over one man’s attitude towards production agriculture. He is damning in his ads and has well-spoken thoughts that have truly reached the masses. As an agriculture capitalist, I must tip my hat to him. He has done what we all wish we could do—make simple ads and get response. The company has targeted an audience, and they are in a few ways onto something. Chipotle sees the need for a more local-oriented market. They want their customers to eat local, and they are educating them to do so. The market is proving that the new consumer will get their news from the internet and will believe whatever is posted as true and accurate gospel.
Enter the new American farmer. He is more efficient and driven than any other before him. His risks are greater and now he must fight to save the industries he works for because of untruthful gospel. I have always said if you want to play hardball, fine, I’ll pitch faster. We, as farmers and ranchers, have the same power to produce the truth as anyone else. We are one of the most technology-driven professions that the world has to offer, yet a scarecrow that is out- dated by only a half-century has created our face? Chipotle, well done. However, you must realize I do this for a living, and if I was betting, agriculture capitalism produced the food that got you to your beloved stepping stone.
Farmers and ranchers must recreate our image for the new consumer. We have the ability at our fingertips every day. We must practice agriculture capitalism so that we make the decision for the market we built. If the new consumer is that impressed with a scarecrow, imagine what a real farmer could teach them!
Layne and Jamie Chapman represent District 3 on Texas Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and Rancher Committee.