The American Farm Bureau Federation and Farm Credit are on the lookout for the next round of agricultural entrepreneurs. Online application for the 2019 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge is open and $145,000 is at stake.
The competition provides an opportunity for individuals to showcase ideas and business innovations in agriculture. This is the fifth year of the Challenge, which is the first national business competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs launching food and agriculture businesses.
Competitors are invited to submit for-profit business ideas related to food and agriculture online at http://fb.org/aginnovationchallenge by Sept. 24.
“Farm Bureau is proud to carry on our long tradition of strengthening the communities we live and farm in by encouraging new businesses across rural America,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Starting a business takes faith, courage, and creativity, but rural entrepreneurs face added challenges including limited access to broadband, high transportation costs, and a lack of access to business networks. Startup funds provided through the Challenge will help entrepreneurs working in food and agriculture take their businesses to the next level.”
Ten semifinalist teams will be announced on Nov. 9 and awarded $10,000. The final four teams (selected from the top 10 semifinalist teams) will be announced on Dec. 5 and will receive an additional $5,000 and all expenses paid to compete in a live pitch competition at AFBF’s 100th Annual Convention in New Orleans on Jan. 13. The final four teams will compete to win:
- Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year award and $15,000 (chosen by judges), for a total of $30,000
- People’s Choice award and $10,000 (chosen by public vote), for a total of $25,000
Rural entrepreneurs with businesses in the categories below may apply:
- Ag technologies
- CSAs, farmers’ markets, food stands, and food hubs
- Farms, ranches, greenhouses, managed forests, aquaponics, cut flowers, herbs, honey, and landscape plants
- Farm-to-table businesses
- Support services including scouting, equipment repair, and fertilizer sales
- Value-added processing including yogurts, cheese, and processed meats
- Wineries, breweries, cideries, and distilleries
Entrepreneurs must be Farm Bureau members to compete. Applicants who are not Farm Bureau members have until Nov. 5 to join.
Startup funds for the 2019 Ag Innovation Challenge are provided by sponsors Farm Credit, John Deere, and Farm Bureau Bank.