A Florida girl turned Ivy League college athlete turned Nebraska farmer and feedyard owner, Anne Burkholder is a woman in agriculture that brings transparency and clarity to where beef comes from and how it is raised.
Anne lives near Cozad, Nebraska, grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida as a “city girl” and met her husband Matt and “soulmate” as she shared with me at Dartmouth College. In June of 1997, they made the transition back to Matt’s Nebraska family farm. Together they are raising daughters Ashley Grace, Megan and Karyn.
Anne started at the bottom, scooping manure as she highlights below and today through her work and example is a woman of agriculture that stands out to me. She doesn’t sensationalize issues and topics. She simply with hard work and tenacity lives out her role in agriculture. Anne is an action-orientated example we all can grow and learn from through how she speaks and writes about her everyday experiences raised 3,000 head of beef cattle in a feedyard.
What you will find in her sharing is a devotion to transparency, animal care, sustainability and a commitment to reduce the environmental footprint of their farm and feedyard. Anne also demonstrates and lives out a commitment to her kids and community as a volunteer to Nebraska Beef Council director, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (animal welfare and consumer outreach efforts), National Beef Quality Assurance Advisory Group member, youth athletic coach (swimming, track), St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church and Daughters of the King.
It is easy for us for critics to type away at a computer or stand at a podium to criticize our food production system. But for those of us in it, working in different facets every day, I think you find the heart and soul of the real story of food production.
Anne is a part of the heart and soul that makes me love agriculture and trust the beef at the meat counter I purchase in my small-town North Dakota grocery store is healthy and safe for my family. If you have want to know about the healthy beef, antibiotics in food animals, humane animal care, the audits and quality assurance of a feedyard and why Anne defines herself as a faithful farmer instead of a Factory Farmer, read her blog with the links provided and ask her any questions you have. There is no reason with modern technology at our fingertips we have to fear and wonder about how our food is raised. Just ask Anne and read her insight in the words below.
What is your role in agriculture today? I was blessed to marry into agriculture. I met my husband (a farm boy from Nebraska) at Dartmouth College the fall of 1993. When we made the decision to move back to the family farm in June of 1997, I asked my father in law for a job at the family’s feed yard. I started on the cattle farm with an hourly wage and a scoop shovel–learning how to care for cattle and eventually working my way up to a management position. I started with very little working knowledge about raising cattle, but I had a couple of terrific mentors and today I am the “boss lady”. In addition to my management role at the feed yard, I do quite a bit of work to improve animal welfare through both the Beef Quality Assurance program and my position on Tyson Fresh Meats 3rd party Animal Well-Being Committee. I also serve as the Region 9 Director to the Nebraska Beef Council. I began blogging in the spring of 2011 as a way to connect with consumers and share my story with those folks that are interesting in learning “where their beef comes from”.
How has agriculture shaped your life? I laugh that I was an athlete who was “fueled by beef” for many years before I knew where my beef came from. In college I made the transition from “athlete” to “intellectual”. When I moved to Nebraska and went to work on the farm, I found yet another passion. I truly love spending my days caring for cattle, and being involved in agriculture has inspired me to continue to strive for greatness in my life–using the gifts that God gave me in order to make the world a better place.
What excites you about your community? A friend told me several years ago that it takes an entire community to raise a child and our town of Cozad proves this statement to be accurate. I have never lived anywhere where the people cared as much as the members of our rural community. Living in Cozad is like being enfolded in a large hug–I am awed daily at the love and support that exists in our town, and I feel tremendously blessed to be able to raise my family in such a wonderful place.
What do you do to encourage others? Who/what serves as a source of encouragement for you? I love to mentor and coach youth. I have an “open door” policy at my feed yard and frequently have college students come and spend a day or two learning about cattle. I also truly love to coach youth athletics. In my sixteen years in Cozad, I have coached Cross Country, soccer, T-ball, track, and swim team. Today, I am still actively coaching track and swim team and it makes my day to inspire young people to work hard and excel.
If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be? I believe that the future of our country is dependent on every individual’s ability and willingness to actively contribute. It takes all kinds of people from all walks of life to make our country successful, and universally building trust and respect is paramount to the sustainability of our great Nation.
What makes you smile? Watching my cattle thrive on my farm and sharing that with my daughters brings a smile to my face as well as gives purpose to my life. I am truly blessed.
Below are 20 links to every feature from this month in 30 Days of Women in Agriculture. Please connect with as many of them as you can. Yesterday I was away from my computer all day and just kept the Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Ovens giveaway as the only feature. It is open until Sunday, November 23. Please enter here because we all could use a beautiful new Dutch Oven for holiday cooking and I have two to share! Anyone in the United States or Canada is eligible. Even my neighbors and friends…because they asked.