Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge

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ruralCathy Isom tells us about the American Farm Bureau’s Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge. The competition to help rural startups in food and agriculture across the country. That’s coming up on This Land of Ours.

AFB Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge

From: Farm Bureau® Strengthening Rural America

Farm Bureau® Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge

The online application opens May 1, 2016!

ruralA link to the online application will be posted by May 1, 2016. Applications must be submitted online but you can review the 2017 Challenge application.

ruralThe Farm Bureau® Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge is the first national business competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs working on food and agriculture businesses. Rural entrepreneurs pitch innovative business ideas to a team of judges with expertise in business development and agribusiness. These entrepreneurs compete for $145,000 of startup funds.


  • May 1, 2016 (Sunday): Online application opens
  • June 30, 2016: Online application closes
  • July 1 – Aug 31, 2016: Judges review applications
  • October 2016: Judges announce six semi-finalists and Top Four teams
  • January 6 – 11, 2017: Top Four teams compete in live event at the American Farm Bureau Annual Convention in Phoenix, AZ.

Terms and Conditions

When individuals apply to the Farm Bureau Challenge, they agree to abide by the Terms and Conditions of the competition. Review the Terms and Conditions.

Who is eligible?

ruralEligibility requirements

  • Business idea must for a food or agriculture business.
    Ideas can include, but are not limited to:

    • Ag technologies
    • Agritourism
    • CSAs, farmers market, food stands, food hubs
    • Farms, ranches, greenhouses, managed forests, aquaponics, cut flowers, herbs, honey, landscape plants
    • Farm-to-table businesses
    • Support services, including scouting, equipment repair, fertilizer sales
    • Value-added processing, including yogurts, cheeses, processed meats
    • Wineries, breweries, cideries, and distilleries
  • ruralBusiness must be a for-profit company.
    A for-profit business is defined as an organization that exists primarily to generate a profit, that is, to take in more money than it spends.
  • Applicant must be a current Farm Bureau member.rural
    The applicant must be a current Farm Bureau member to be eligible for the Challenge. You can join Farm Bureau to become eligible to participate in the Challenge. We encourage you to investigate all the benefits of belonging to Farm Bureau in your state. If you are not a current Farm Bureau member you can find more information by visiting the American Farm Bureau website.
  • Applicant must be at least 18 years of age.
    The applicant must be 18 years of age at the time of the online submission.

Who is not eligible?

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 the Challenge semi-finalists and finalists who received prize money in previous years are ineligible to compete.


  • Six semi-finalist teams win $10,000 each
  • Four finalist teams compete to win:
    • Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year award & $30,000 (chosen by judges)
    • People’s Choice award & $25,000 (chosen by public vote)
    • First runner-up prize of $15,000
    • Second runner-up prize of $15,000
  • Note: 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 considered for the People’s Choice Award.

Competition Rounds

  • Round 1: Online Application
    • Participants submit applications online and judges determine the Top 10 teams, including 6 semi-finalists and 4 finalists. Four finalist continue to next round.
  • Round 2: Live Competition
    • Four finalists compete in a live competition in front of judges and audience at the American Farm Bureau Annual Convention.

Still have questions?

Contact Lisa Benson at American Farm Bureau at

Image credits: All images courtesy of Farm Bureau®.