Clements: SwineTech Inc., the winning company of the American Farm Bureau Federation Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge, will use its winnings to help reduce piglet mortality and grow local economies. The challenge, now in its fourth year, provides opportunities for individuals to showcase agriculture-based business innovation in rural areas. CEO and cofounder Matthew Rooda says the challenge provided more than funding, it provided a learning experience.
Rooda: It’s about making sure the audience understands what’s going on. There’s so many different audiences out there, you have investors, farmers and the general public, and how can you communicate your dream, your passion and also what you’re doing to each of those audiences. And, Farm Bureau was able to coach us on how to do that.
Clements: SwineTech Inc. took home a total of $30,000 in prize money, including an additional $15,000 from sponsor John Deere. Rooda says he came up with the idea to reduce piglet mortality while working as an assistant farm manager.
Rooda: During that time the company that I was working for was losing just over $1 million a year from piglet crushing. It was really one of the last problems we could not solve with what was offered the market. And one day I started brainstorming while power washing and found that we could probably do this with technology.
Clements: He says the Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge provides much-needed support for rural entrepreneurs.
Rooda: Entrepreneurs have been the backbone for rural areas. Farmers themselves have supported rural communities for centuries. And now the ability to support individuals in rural areas who want to start businesses can also help those towns grow.
Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.