Photograph by Bradley Peters for Bloomberg Businessweek

Remaking the Family Farm

  1. Nebraska Plains
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    Nebraska Plains

    Fifteen years ago, Matt and Anne Burkholder traded New Hampshire's White Mountains for Nebraska's Great Plains, taking over land that has been in Matt's family for three generations. Today their 5,000-acre farm mixes organic corn on some fields with genetically modified batches on others. Their cattle feedlot is industrial-size, yet the 2,700-head herd has room to run. It's a mix that challenges conventional notions of farming as either corporate or artisanal.

    Dartmouth College grad Anne Burkholder earned $6.85 an hour learning the cattle business from her father-in-law in the 1990s.

    Photograph by Bradley Peters for Bloomberg Businessweek
  2. Managing the Herd
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    Managing the Herd

    Now she manages 2,700 steers, tracking the animals from birth to slaughter.

    Photograph by Bradley Peters for Bloomberg Businessweek
  3. Feed Trough
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    Feed Trough

    Matching feeding records against quality reports from the meatpacking plant helps her plan the steers’ diets.

    Photograh by Bradley Peters for Bloomberg Businessweek
  4. Keeping the Books
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    Keeping the Books

    She makes $65 to $70 more per animal than most ranchers. Her beef is sold as far away as Japan.

    Photograph by Bradley Peters for Bloomberg Businessweek
  5. Feed Corn
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    Feed Corn

    Matt Burkholder raises alfalfa and corn that feeds his wife’s cows as well as those at organic dairies in California.

    Photograph by Bradley Peters for Bloomberg Businessweek
  6. Sawdust Power
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    Sawdust Power

    The plant that converts his alfalfa grass into dehydrated pellets is powered by sawdust instead of fossil fuels.

    Photograph by Bradley Peters for Bloomberg Businessweek
  7. Irrigation Fountain
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    Irrigation Fountain

    Who needs bottled water when you have giant irrigation pipes to drink from? Matt and his daughter in the family’s corn fields.

    Photograph by Bradley Peters for Bloomberg Businessweek
  8. Farm Family
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    Farm Family

    “We made a life choice to live out here,” says Anne. “Our children know what we do all day.”

    Photograph by Bradley Peters for Bloomberg Businessweek