“I make decisions every day that affect the health of my cattle and the safety of the beef that they produce,” writes Anne Burkholder in her new blog, “Feed Yard Foodie," launched earlier this month. “If I treated my animals as pets, I would be doing a disservice to you as the consumer because food safety and quality would then not be my top priority. When asked what I do every day, I always answer, 'I care for animals that will be harvested to feed to my children and to yours.'”
Sound like a scripted public relations commercial for the beef industry? Well, that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. The writer behind "Feed Yard Foodie" is a cattle feeder, buyer, wife and mother from Central Nebraska. Burkholder grew up in Palm Beach County, FL, where she was an athlete, and her life took an interesting turn when she fell in love with a Nebraska cattle feeder while attending Dartmouth College.
I'm a firm believer that the best spokespersons for the beef industry aren’t celebrities; they are ranchers, and Burkholder is a great example. While already successful in the beef business, transitioning into the world of online social media has been a new experience for her. Here, she offers her advice, first impressions and reasoning behind this new project that often takes her from chores and puts her in front of a computer:
“I think that as afraid that I am of social media, the biggest challenge for me was to just start blogging. Blogging is such a huge tool for the industry. Only 2% of us are directly involved in production agriculture today, and while I can’t bring 98% of the U.S. to me, I can bring my story to them online — that’s why I decided to start this blog,” she says.
Yet, like a lot of ranchers, being tech-savvy isn’t the first tool in their arsenal, and she called upon the beef checkoff to help get her blog off the ground.
“I’m so thankful for the checkoff for helping me get started. My biggest obstacle was technical. They provided me the resources and saved me a lot of time, so now I can get right to work. I believe it’s a good use of checkoff dollars when a producer asks for help. This blog isn’t political. I truly want to share my story with consumers and bridge the gap between rural and urban America,” she explains.
In just a few weeks of blogging, “Feed Yard Foodie” is gaining national attention, and the demographics of her readership include moms, athletes and consumers who live in big cities on the coast.
“I would like to help consumers understand where their beef comes from. I didn’t grow up in agriculture, and I have a lot of empathy for the consumer, especially those who sincerely want to know where their food comes from. I want to show them what I do every day — raising animals and producing safe and healthy beef. I’m a person just like they are. I have the same priorities. My job is feeding the world. I’m striving for a strong consumer audience,” adds Burkholder.
Burkholder has the hard work ethic and the desire to make this blog a successful one, while still managing to take care of her family and the feedlot. Yet one more ball to juggle doesn’t seem to bother her. Follow her blog and take part in the consumer-rancher conversations happening at "Feed Yard Foodie," the next up-and-coming website to watch!