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Farm Bureau Marks National Small Business Week with Opening of $145K Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge

News Release – The American Farm Bureau Federation is opening online applications for its fourth Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge. The announcement coincides with National Small Business Week (April 30 – May 6). Entrepreneurs will 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 U.S. It’s 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 starting May 1 at

Businesses related to food and agriculture include farms or ranches, value-added food processing, food hubs, community-supported agriculture programs, farm-to-table restaurants, farmers’ markets and craft beverage startups. Businesses can also support food and agriculture such as crop scouting, agritourism, ag advertising agencies and ag technology companies.

Applications must be submitted online by June 30. Judges will review the applications and provide feedback to the participants.

The top 10 teams, to be announced in October, will be offered the opportunity to pitch to multi-million 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 in startup funds in the categories below:

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

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.

To view the full news release, click here.

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