Staff Report

The American Farm Bureau Federation, in partnership with Farm Credit, is accepting applications through July 31 for the 2021 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge. This national business competition showcases U.S. startup companies addressing challenges faced by America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities.

The award for the Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year has increased to $50,000 for 2021. Farm Bureau will award a total of $145,000 in startup funds provided by sponsors Farm Credit, John Deere, Bayer Crop Science, Country Financial, Farm Bureau Financial Services and Farm Bureau Bank.

Also new this year is a streamlined online application process that’s fast and easy to navigate.

Farm Bureau is seeking entrepreneurs who are addressing both traditional challenges farmers and rural communities face as well as business owners tackling new challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As Farm Bureau members continue to grapple with the impacts of the pandemic, solutions from entrepreneurs are needed more than ever,” said AFBF Vice President Scott VanderWal. “We’re looking for entrepreneurs with solid plans to use startup funds provided by the Challenge to help support farms and ranches and grow rural economies.”

Ten startup companies will compete at the AFBF Convention in January 2021 as semi-finalists. The 10 semi-finalist teams will be announced on Oct. 5 and awarded $7,500 each. These 10 teams will then compete to advance to the final round where four teams will receive an additional $7,500 and compete in front of Farm Bureau members, investors and industry representatives. The final four teams will compete to win:

  • Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year, for a total of $50,000
  • People’s Choice award, for a total of $20,000

The top 10 semi-finalist teams will participate in pitch training and mentorship from Cornell University’s Dyson School of Applied Economics & Management faculty, and network with representatives from the Agriculture Department’s Rural Business Investment Companies.

Entrepreneurs must be Farm Bureau members to qualify as top-10 finalists. Non-members can join a state Farm Bureau of their choice. Visit for information. Eligibility guidelines, the competition timeline, videos and profiles of past winners are available at Apply by midnight EDT (9 p.m. PDT) on July 31.