AFBF Announces Top 10 Teams in 2018 Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge

Newsroom / October 23, 2017

The American Farm Bureau Federation has announced the top 10 teams – four finalists and six best-in-show winners – in the 2018 Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge. AFBF Executive Vice President Julia Anna Potts hosted an announcement event at AFBF headquarters.

“We are proud to recognize these 10 outstanding rural businesses,” Potts said. “Through the Farm Bureau Challenge, we try to overcome hurdles that entrepreneurs typically face, such as lack of capital and limited access to business networks and training. We also want to show that the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship is alive in rural America. We can strengthen rural communities by investing in good ideas and businesses such as the ones we are recognizing today,” she said.

“Economic opportunity can transform rural communities,” said Anne Hazlett, Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development at the Agriculture Department, in remarks at the announcement event. “At USDA Rural Development, we are committed to being a partner in rural prosperity so hometown businesses and the entrepreneurs who build them from the ground up can succeed.”

Sponsors of the 2018 Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge include Farm Credit, John Deere and Farm Bureau Bank.

The final four teams, chosen from 471 applicants, were each awarded $15,000 and will advance to the next phase of the challenge. The final four are:

  • GeoAir, Knoxville, Tennessee—ag technology entry. Team lead: Alexander Adams
  • Hawk Knob, Lewisburg, West Virginia—craft beverage entry. Team leads: Josh Bennett and Will Lewis
  • SwineTech, Inc., Oskaloosa, Iowa—ag technology entry. Team leads: Matthew Rooda and Abraham Espinoza
  • Wild Valley Farms, Croydon, Utah—local product entry. Team lead: Albert Wilde
(L to R) Edward Sobek, GeoAir, Tennessee; Alexander Adams, GeoAir, Tennessee; Abraham Espinoza, SwineTech, Iowa; Matthew Rooda, SwineTech, Iowa; Kelsey Berg, Utah Farm Bureau; Adam Koppes, Iowa Farm Bureau; Joan Harman, West Virginia Farm Bureau; Will Lew   Credit: AFBF   

Six best-in-show winners were announced and will be awarded $10,000 in startup funds in the categories below.

The final four teams will compete in a live competition at AFBF’s 99th Annual Convention in Nashville on Jan. 7 to win:

  • Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year award and an additional $15,000 for a total of $30,000 in prize money (chosen by judges)
  • People’s Choice award and an additional $10,000 for a total of $25,000 in prize money (chosen by public vote)

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 eligible for the People’s Choice Award. The competition timeline, detailed eligibility guidelines and profiles of past Challenge winners are available at www.strongruralamerica.com/challenge.

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