Where's the Beef for Texas? Chipotle Says Australia

Where's the Beef for Texas? Chipotle Says Australia

Saying they cannot find the cows they want in domestically, Chipotle is importing beef from Australia. That doesn’t sit well with Texas’ Commissioner of Agriculture, who says the company is being “irresponsible.”

Writing in the Huffington Post last month, Chipotle CEO Steve Ells claimed his company is having trouble finding enough “responsibly raised” beef in the United States. His company labels as “responsibly raised” beef produced from animals without the use of antibiotics and hormones.

Ells praised the Austrian ranchers, noting that the “cattle spend their entire lives grazing on pastures or rangelands, eating only grass or forages.”

In a letter to Ells last week, Commissioner Todd Staples wrote that the company’s decision to import beef was “premature.”

Staples decried the company’s actions as being inconsistent with the environmental stances Ells and Chipotle has taken. He wrote that unlike Australian beef, Texas products would not “leave a substantial carbon footprint before ending up in a Chipotle burrito.”

The state’s agriculture chief wrote that he was “dismayed by your misguided and irresponsible declaration that [Australian] meat is somehow more ‘responsibly raised’ than meat produced by Texas ranchers. American consumers deserve better.”

According to an Associated Press report, a Chipotle spokesman responded by saying that drought conditions have resulted in herds not being available in sufficient quantities to meet the company’s needs.

Follow Michael Quinn Sullivan on Twitter @MQSullivan.