Online applications are now open for American Farm Bureau Federation’s fourth Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge. Entrepreneurs will compete for $145,000 in startup funds. Applications are due June 30 at midnight.

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 such as farms or ranches, value-added food processing, food hubs, community-supported agriculture programs (CSAs), farm-to-table restaurants, farmers’ markets, wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries. Businesses can also support food and agriculture such as crop scouting, agritourism, ag advertising agencies and ag technology companies.

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

All applications, which include a business plan, video pitch and photo, must be submitted online by June 30. Judges will review the applications and provide feedback to the participants. Applicants must be Farm Bureau members and at least 18 years old at the time of online submission.

The top 10 teams will be announced in October. This includes six teams that will each win $10,000 in startup funds.

The final four teams, which will each receive $15,000 in startup funds, will compete in January in a live competition during AFBF’s 99th Annual Convention in Nashville to win:

• Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year award and $15,000 (chosen by judges);

• People’s Choice award and $10,000 (chosen by public vote).

The Entrepreneur of the Year award and the People’s Choice award will be awarded to two different teams. The team that wins the Entrepreneur of the Year award will not be eligible for the People’s Choice award. The competition timeline, detailed eligibility guidelines and profiles of the 2017 finalist teams are available online.

Caption: In last year’s competition Union County’s Demeter Inc. of Irwin received $10,000 for reaching the Top 10 of American Farm Bureau’s Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge. The company created low-cost software and sensors systems derived from military technologies for agricultural use. Pictured, from left, are Demeter’s Benjamin Hofecker, OFB President Frank Burkett, Terry Hofecker and Bruce Kane.

Ohio Farm Bureau membership

Having opportunities to attend leadership institutes, advocate for rural Ohioans on the state and national level, facilitate young ag professionals events, and serve in a variety of leadership positions have helped my skills grow exponentially.
Sara Tallmadge's avatar
Sara Tallmadge

Ashland County Farm Bureau

Growing our Generation
Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
Mandy Way's avatar
Mandy Way

Way Farms

Business Solutions
If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington.
Austin Heil's avatar
Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
I was gifted the great opportunity through an Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation Youth Pathways grant to run a series of summer camps here. That really expanded my vision of what ‘grow, maintain, sustain and explain’ could actually be.
Jim Bruner's avatar
Jim Bruner

Mezzacello Urban Farms

Farming for Good
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.
Matt Aultman's avatar
Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
So many of the issues that OFBF and its members are advocating for are important to all Ohioans. I look at OFBF as an agricultural watchdog advocating for farmers and rural communities across Ohio.
Mary Smallsreed's avatar
Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

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