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Farm Bureau Strengthening Rural America

Rural Development

The American Farm Bureau Rural Development program works to build strong, prosperous agricultural communities by strengthening rural businesses. Rural Development fosters business development through an entrepreneurship competition and providing education.




The Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge

The Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge gives entrepreneurs the chance to pitch innovative business ideas to judges and compete for prize money to implement their ideas. Over 200 applications were submitted for the 2015 Challenge. Judges chose four finalists teams to compete for $85,000 in prize money.

The experience of participating in the Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge has afforded us many opportunities to talk about our business, our industry and how we can help solve the difficulties so many aging farmers are facing of how to move off the farm. And, in the process, we gained valuable insight about our small business from the judges’ comments and suggestions along the way.

Susan Scholz, Golden Bridges, Inc.
2015 Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge Finalist

To learn more about the Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge finalists, follow their blog posts on FBNews.


2015 Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year

The judging team chose SCOUTPRO, INC. from Lone Tree, IA as the Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year and awarded them a total of $30,000 in start-up funds. The finalist teams pitched their businesses in front of a standing room only audience of more than 200 people. Dr. Rob Leclerc, AgFunder; Amy Gales, CoBank; Mark Rockefeller, StreetShares.com; and Dr. Ron Hustedde, University of Kentucky and Kentucky Entrepreneurial Coaches Institute, judged the live finals competition. Dave Alwan of Echo Valley Meats, a cattleman and farmer featured on Shark Tank, served as moderator.

Michael Koenig and Stuart McCulloh, ScoutPro, Inc., pitch to the judges.


2015 People’s Choice Award

Audience members voted for PASTUREBIRD LLC from Temecula, CA as their favorite finalist team and the winner of the People’s Choice Award, including a total of $25,000 in start-up funds. More than 4,500 people from all 50 states voted for their favorite Challenge finalist team through the American Farm Bureau Convention app. People attending the Convention in San Diego watched the event in person, and people throughout the country watched the event through a live video stream.

Paul Greive, Pasturebird LLC, pitches to the judges.


Watch the Challenge

Watch four finalist teams compete for the title of Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year at the Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge at American Farm Bureau 96th Annual Convention in San Diego.

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2016 Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge

Find out how you can enter the Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge next year! Visit the Challenge website to learn who is eligible to compete, how to submit applications, and the judging criteria. AFBF staff held two webinars for more information on 2016 challenge updates and press room materials that can also be found on the challenge website.


Farm Bureau Patriot Mentors

The purpose of the Farm Bureau Patriot Mentors program is to facilitate an educational and professional relationship between military veterans seeking a career in agriculture with experienced farmers and ranchers. American Farm Bureau Federation is piloting this mentorship program during Summer 2015. To learn more about the pilot program, watch the informational webinar recording.


National Rural Development Survey

AFBF surveyed state Farm Bureau staff involved in rural development activities in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Farm Bureau staff were asked which rural development topics they wanted to receive training in. Click on the report below to learn more.