Entrepreneurship has the power to transform communities across America, as we’ve seen in places like Silicon Valley, California, and Austin, Texas. But what about the heart of rural America – say, Ames, Iowa, or Farmville, North Carolina?
Rural communities also benefit from the influx of fresh ideas and innovative businesses, but rural entrepreneurs face unique challenges, like inadequate access to broadband, higher transportation costs and lack of access to a business network.
Farm Credit’s commitment to supporting rural communities and agriculture means ensuring rural entrepreneurs have the tools they need to overcome these barriers and grow their businesses, right in rural America. That’s why Farm Credit has partnered with the American Farm Bureau Federation to present the 2020 Ag Innovation Challenge, now accepting applications through September 30.
Launched in 2015, the Challenge is the first national business competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs launching food and agriculture businesses, and it continues to focus on strengthening rural America through ag entrepreneurship today.
The Challenge provides an opportunity for business owners across the United States to showcase their innovations in food and agriculture and compete for a total of $145,000 in startup funds that will be distributed across the top ten food and agriculture startup businesses over the course of the competition.
Last year’s Challenge finalists illustrate the important impacts that innovative rural businesses have on agriculture and rural communities across the country, and how rural entrepreneurs are solving real-life problems that farmers face:
- FarmlandFinder is a an online tool that helps land professionals find land for sale, research market trends and connect with a real estate agent. Unlike the residential real estate market, there are no online marketplaces for land. FarmlandFinder fills that gap by providing an up-to-date and comprehensive search engine for land real estate.
- AgHelp is a national platform that connects workers, farm employers and worker support agencies with one another, bringing efficiency to a costly and inefficient agriculture matchmaking job market.
- Glean is a food company that utilizes fresh produce that would otherwise be discarded from retail shelves to make flours, powders, gummies and pet treats. Utilizing puree, dehydration and extrusion processing techniques, Glean mitigates the disposal of perishable fruits and vegetables while creating shelf-stable, alternative products that meet the increasing consumer demand for “free-from” foods.
- Elite OviGen is a mobile app that allows sheep farmers to register data about their flock in real-time. With this information, farmers are better able to connect with sheep breeders, as well as consumers to more efficiently purchase and market livestock.
Feeling inspired by these creative solutions to rural challenges? Are you a rural entrepreneur who has started an innovative food or agriculture business? If so, don’t miss your chance to win up to $40,000 in startup funds. Apply for the 2020 Ag Innovation Challenge by September 30!