Chipotle Donates $125K in Scholarships for Young Farmers


QSR Magazine

September 10, 2020


Chipotle Mexican Grill donated $125,000 to the Niman Ranch Next Generation Foundation’s scholarship program for young farmers and future sustainable agriculture leaders. Brian Niccol, Chipotle Mexican Grill’s Chairman and CEO, will announce this investment during Niman Ranch’s annual farmer appreciation gathering and celebration on September 9. Niccol will note in his remarks that Chipotle has donated more than $425,000 over the past several years to support Niman Ranch farmers, funding scholarships as well as $150,000 in young farmer seed grants and the recent launch of a virtual farmers’ market selling Niman Ranch meats.


The partnership between Chipotle and Niman Ranch started in 1998 when Chipotle’s founder visited Niman Ranch’s original hog farmer, Paul Willis, and saw a model for farming that he believed in. Chipotle began serving Niman Ranch meat after that visit and continues to do so today. Chipotle’s commitment to “Food with Integrity” and serving Niman Ranch beef and pork fueled the recruitment of new farmers and ranchers to the Niman Ranch network and helped provide stable livelihoods for independent family farmers over their 20-plus years of partnership.


“Offering Niman Ranch products on our menu enables us to serve sustainable food raised humanely by farmers whose ethical practices align with our values. After more than 20 years, we're still proudly working together and look forward to cultivating the future of farming,” Niccol says.


Rural America has changed dramatically over the past 30 years. Four out of five Iowa pig farms that operated three decades ago are out of business today. In recent years, 40 times more farms have been lost than gained. Young farmers face particularly challenging obstacles getting started with high land prices and significant debt.


Thanks to partners like Chipotle, the history and future of Niman Ranch and its community of independent family farmers provides a contrast to those trends. Niman Ranch’s network continues to...