Funds available for entrepreneurs in Ag Innovation Challenge

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 continues to provide 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.

Competitors can apply online at by midnight Eastern Standard Time on Sept. 30.

“It takes faith, courage and creativity to start a business,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said. “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.”

Ten semi-finalist teams will be announced on 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. 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
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 a state Farm Bureau of their choice.