By Mike Tomko
American Farm Bureau Federation
The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), in partnership with Farm Credit, continues to advance ag innovation by supporting start-up business from across the country. AFBF and Farm Credit today announced the 10 semi-finalist teams in the 2022 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge, including two Alabama companies.
“We’re pleased to recognize this exceptional group of entrepreneurs for their commitment to finding solutions to challenges facing farmers, ranchers and rural communities,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Start-up companies like these are helping to shape the future of agriculture.”
The competition provides an opportunity for individuals to showcase ideas and business innovations in agriculture. This is the eighth year of the Challenge, which was the first national business competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs launching food and agriculture businesses.
The 10 semi-finalist teams receive $10,000 each. They are:
- Birds Eye Robotics, Nebraska. Team lead: Scott Niewohner
- Caravan Tech LLC, Alabama. Team lead: Richy Naisbett
- CHONEX, Alabama. Team lead: Michael Lynch
- ExciPlex, West Virginia. Team lead: Daryl Staveness
- Grain Weevil Corporation, Nebraska. Team lead: Chad Johnson
- Marble Technologies, Nebraska. Team lead: Britany Wondercheck
- NEK Supply Co., Kansas. Team lead: Blake Chance
- Propagate Ventures, New York. Team lead: Ethan Steinberg
- StemPunk, Pennsylvania. Team lead: Leighton Rice
- Vulpes Agricultural Corp., Missouri. Team lead: Rick Shang
The 10 semi-finalist teams will compete at the AFBF Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, on Friday, Jan. 7, to advance to the final round where the four finalist teams will receive an additional $5,000 for a total of $15,000 each. The final four teams will compete live in front of Farm Bureau members, investors and industry representatives on Sunday, Jan. 9, to win three top titles and prizes:
- Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge Winner, for a total of $50,000
- Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge Runner-up, for a total of $20,000
- People’s Choice Team selected by public vote, for an additional $5,000 (all 10 semi-finalist teams compete for this honor)
The top 10 semi-finalist teams will participate in pitch training and mentorship from Cornell University’s SC Johnson College of Business faculty prior to competing at AFBF’s Convention. In addition, the top 10 semi-finalist teams will have the opportunity to network with industry leaders and venture capital representatives from the Agriculture Department’s Rural Business Investment Companies.
Farm Bureau would not be able to recognize and support these rural businesses without generous funding provided by sponsors Farm Credit, Bayer Crop Science, Farm Bureau Bank, FMC Corporation and John Deere.
To learn more about the Challenge, visit fb.org/challenge.