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Brush up business plans for Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge

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Got a business idea that could benefit rural America? Here’s your chance to fund it! The American Farm Bureau Federation’s fourth Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge is now open, giving entrepreneurs the opportunity to compete for $145,000 in startup funds.

The competition provides an opportunity for individuals to showcase ideas and business innovations that benefit rural regions of the United States. It is the first national rural business competition focused exclusively on innovative entrepreneurs working on food and agriculture businesses.

Competitors are invited to submit for-profit business ideas related to food and agriculture online through June 30.

“Rural entrepreneurs typically face hurdles that make it challenging to develop successful businesses, including lack of capital, business networks and business training,” said Dr. Lisa Benson, AFBF’s director of rural development. “Through the challenge, we’re helping food and agricultural entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level.”

The top 10 teams, to be announced in October, will be offered the opportunity to pitch to multimillion dollar investors, in addition to education about venture capital and expanding their businesses.

New this year, six best-in-show winners will each be awarded $10,000:

  • Best Farm Startup – farms, ranches, hydroponics, aquaponics, greenhouse production, forestry, etc.
  • Best Agritourism Startup – farm-to-school programs, pumpkin festivals, farm stays, etc.
  • Best Farm-to-Table Startup – CSAs, food hubs, farmers’ markets.
  • Best Ag Tech & Support Services Startup – hardware, software and support services (marketing programs, scouting services and other services targeting farmers).
  • Best Craft Beverage Startup – including breweries, wineries, cideries, and distilleries.
  • Best Local Product Startup – food and non-food products.

The final four teams will compete in a live competition at AFBF’s 99th Annual Convention in Nashville on Jan. 7 to win:

  • Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year award and $30,000 (chosen by judges).
  • People’s Choice award and $25,000 (chosen by public vote).
  • First runner-up prize, $15,000.
  • Second runner-up prize, $15,000.
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