A Focus on Farmers, Culver's Key to Success

A FOCUS ON FARMERS, CULVER'S KEY TO SUCCESS

Over the past few years we have witnessed several large corporations and restaurants cave to the pressure of radical animal rights organizations, and have consequently hindered the ability of farmers to produce more food on less land – which is imperative to feeding the growing world population. Mostly this comes from a lack of agricultural understanding. For example, to McDonalds, Burger King, or Wendy’s, fast-food superpowers, the switch to non-traditional egg production systems accounts for a relatively small increase in cost, and they simply pass that on to consumers anyway. However, to the industry as a whole, that switch is extremely costly. Non-traditional egg production facilities cost millions of dollars to install, the mortality rate for the hens is twice as high, and hens are put into extremely disgusting situations that compromises the safety of the eggs being passed on for human consumption. Naturally farmers have shied away from this inefficient method of farming. Nevertheless, the movement is pushed by corporations in search of the “health halo,” and they don’t consider the unintended consequences for farmers as a whole. In order to keep up with the demand of non-traditional eggs, more and more farmers have to convert over their farms to produce in these negative environments, hurting agriculture as a whole. This situation extends to pork production, the use of antibiotics, and GMOs as well. Their misunderstanding, or flat disregard, of agriculture has made farming increasingly more difficult and costly. One company, though, is going against the growing norm and is instead nurturing their understanding of agriculture and relationship with farmers: Culver’s. Through their “Thank You Farmers” initiative, the company has raised nearly half a million dollars in support of American Farmers. Most of the money has gone to the National FFA Organization, to “give back to today's farm families, while helping ensure the future of the next generation.” They are just a few years into their program and have already made strong acknowledgments of the importance of farmers, and turned their “Gratitude to Full-Fledged Support.” They created the “Thank You Farmers Corn Maze” and several “Thank You Farms Blue Barns” to declare to the world their support of farmers. Culver’s has a unique relationship with agricultural producers and their VP of Marketing, David Stidham, said, “We’ve witnessed firsthand the incredible energy and passion that these future agriculture leaders have for their fields. And we’re committed to helping ensure they reach their goals.” However, they do more than just support agriculture themselves – they are encouraging their customers to support agriculture as well. They created a nationwide coloring competition for their guests, and put together the top twelve into a “Thank You Farmers Calendar.” Also, they have given customers an opportunity to write thank you letters to farmers, and with each thank you letter Culver’s gives another $1 donation. You can write one letter per day. Many of these letters show how well their initiative is working, and instilling in Americans a much needed appreciation for our nation’s food producers. Check out what some of their guests have been saying in their letters:

“thank you for helping feed our family and the world..your hard work and dedication often goes un-noticed and under-appreciated. Thank-you” ~Vera “Without farmers we would not have the clothes on our back, homes over our heads or food in our tummies. Farming is the backbone of the United States of America and without strong, hardworking, dedicated farmers - life as we know it would not exist. Thank you to America's Farmers!” ~ Jamie Propson “I am thankful that farmers raise the animals and crops that we need to survive!” ~ Brian Lisa Rieke

We will give them a great deal of credit for what they’ve done so far for farmers, but we must also be critical of them in one area. The reason we can’t let Culver’s off the hook completely is that they offer what they refer to as “antibiotic-free chicken” on their menu, despite the fact that all meat that enters the market is antibiotic-free (antibiotics are used to treat and prevent common diseases in poultry, but after thorough inspection by officials it is ensured that all meat is free of antibiotic residues by the time it reaches consumers). This could be seen as another example of a restaurant chain benefitting from the “health halo”. The one thing that differs Culver’s from its competitors who have used a similar strategy is that Culver’s never once demonized farmers. Restaurant chains like Chipotle have stirred the public and influenced opinion on antibiotics by using unethical fear mongering. It would be hypocritical of us to laud Culver’s without also mentioning their errors. That being said, you would be hard-pressed to find a restaurant chain as dedicated to supporting the farmers who support them. Culver’s stands out in this regard. They have proven their dedication to ensuring an agriculturally sustainable future. We send them our thanks for this. And of course, to the farmers who dedicate their lives to keeping our country fed. As Jamie Propson said, you truly are the “backbone of the United States of America.”

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