The American Farm Bureau Federation, in partnership with Farm Credit, has opened online applications for the 2020 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge. In its sixth year, the Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge is a national business competition for U.S. food and agriculture startups. Entrepreneurs will compete for $145,000 in startup funds.

Launched in 2015 as the first national competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs, the competition provides an opportunity for U.S. startups to showcase business innovations in food and agriculture. Startup funds for the challenge are provided by sponsors Farm Credit, John Deere, Bayer Crop Science, Farm Bureau Bank, Country Financial and Farm Bureau Financial Services.

To apply for the 2020 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge, competitors can apply online by Oct. 14, 2019 at midnight.

“It takes faith, courage and creativity to start a business,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Rural entrepreneurs face a number of additional challenges compared to their urban counterparts. These include limited access to broadband, high transportation costs and a lack of access to business networks. We’re very interested to see how entrepreneurs working in food and agriculture will use startup funds provided by the Challenge to take their businesses to the next level.”

Timeline

Ten semi-finalist teams will be announced Nov. 5 and awarded $10,000 each. All 10 semi-finalist teams will travel to AFBF’s Annual Convention, in Austin, Texas, in January 2020, with all expenses paid, to compete in a live competition to be the Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year. The 10 teams will compete in Austin to advance to the final round where four teams will receive an additional $5,000 and compete live on stage in front of Farm Bureau members, investors and industry representatives.

Prizes

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

Business categories

Entrepreneurs and startups with businesses in the following categories are encouraged to apply:

  • Farm, ranch, greenhouse, aquaponics
  • Input product or crop variety
  • Method or tool for growing, monitoring or harvesting crops or livestock
  • Production support services
  • Retail, agritourism or farm-to-table business
  • Food/beverage/textile product or ingredient
  • Method of production, preparation or packaging of food/beverage/textile products or ingredients
  • Value-added processing including yogurts, cheeses and processed meats, wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries

Entrepreneurs must be Farm Bureau members to qualify as a top-10 semi-finalist. Applicants who are not Farm Bureau members can join Ohio Farm Bureau. Detailed eligibility guidelines, the competition timeline, videos and profiles of past Challenge winners are available.

Photo caption: Steven Brockshus, founder of FarmlandFinder and 2019 Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year, competing live at the 2019 AFBF Annual Convention. Photo credit: American Farm Bureau Federation

I'm eternally grateful for the support Ohio Farm Bureau scholarships provided in helping me turn my dreams into reality.
Bethany Starlin's avatar
Bethany Starlin

Hocking County Farm Bureau

Available scholarships
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.
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Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
With not growing up on a farm, I’d say I was a late bloomer to agriculture. I feel so fortunate that I found the agriculture industry. There are so many opportunities for growth.
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Jenna Gregorich

Coshocton 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
Farm Bureau involvement has taught me how to grow my professional and leadership experience outside of the workforce and how to do that in a community-centric way.
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Jaclyn De Candio

Clark County Farm Bureau

Young Ag Professionals program
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
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.
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Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

Advocacy
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