Is your business up to the challenge?

Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge

Have an idea for starting your own food and agricultural business? Enter the Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge where you can win capital to take your business to the next level.

The Challenge is part of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Entrepreneurship Initiative (REI), which helps rural entrepreneurs whose good business ideas sometimes lack necessary capital, business training or networking. It’s a national competition focused on entrepreneurs with food and agricultural businesses. More than 70 businesses in 26 states have been helped by REI projects.

To compete, business ideas must incorporate one or more local agriculture products. Ideas can be for production, distribution, marketing, branding, or support services. Eligible businesses include farms, ranches, agritourism, CSAs, food hubs, aquaponics, farm-to-table businesses, local food production and craft breweries. The business must be a for-profit company.

The prizes? Ten rural entrepreneurs will share $145,000 in startup funds. Four finalists will each be awarded $15,000 and compete for an additional $25,000. Six best-in-show winners will each be awarded $10,000. Best in show categories include: Best Farm Startup – farms, ranches, hydroponics, aquaponics, greenhouse production, and forestry.

Best Local Product Startup- food and non-food products

Best Agritourism Startup – farm-to-school programs, pumpkin festivals, farm stays

Best Farm-to-Table Startup – CSAs, food hubs, farmers markets

Best Ag Tech & Support Services Startup – Ag tech includes hardware and software. Support services include marketing programs, scouting services, and other services targeting farmers.

Best Craft Beverage Startup – breweries, wineries, cideries, and distilleries

More rules – Applicants must be current Farm Bureau members at least 18 years of age. If not already a member, you can join Farm Bureau to become eligible to participate. Farm Bureau staff at the county, state or national level or one of Farm Bureau’s affiliate companies such as AAIC or Farm Bureau Bank are not eligible to participate in the Challenge.  Spouses and family members living in the same household of the Farm Bureau staff member or staff member of Farm Bureau affiliated companies are not eligible to participate in the Challenge. Also Challenge semi-finalists and finalists who received prize money in previous years are ineligible to compete.

Applications for the contest open May 1, 2017 and close on June 30, 2017. Complete contest information is available at www.strongruralamerica.com. Contact Lisa Benson at American Farm Bureau at lisab@fb.org.

Other opportunities involved in the Challenge are inclusion in The Farm Bureau Agriculture Investment Summit, which connects rural entrepreneurs with associates from venture capital funds and accelerator programs. The summit takes place during the American Farm Bureau Annual Convention in January.