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

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

Remaking the Family Farm

Nebraska Plains
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
Managing the Herd
Managing the Herd

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

Photograph by Bradley Peters for Bloomberg Businessweek
Feed Trough
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
Keeping the Books
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
Feed Corn
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
Sawdust Power
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
Irrigation Fountain
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
Farm Family
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