WASHINGTON, October 5, 2020 – The American Farm Bureau Federation, in partnership with Farm Credit, is advancing ag innovation by supporting start-ups from across the country through the 2021 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge. AFBF and Farm Credit today announced the 10 semi-finalist teams in the competition. Among these semi-finalists is Maryland Farm Bureau member, Richard Francis.

“The current climate requires immediate action to support our children and elderly during COVID-19 pandemic,” said semi-finalist, Richard Francis. “This national visibility will secure Ag Education in all elementary schools in Baltimore and ensure food security by promoting junior urban farmers who can move on to become Maryland Farm Bureau members.”

The Ag Innovation Challenge competition provides an opportunity for individuals to showcase ideas and business innovations in agriculture. This is the seventh year of the Challenge, which was the first national business competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs launching food and agriculture businesses. This is also the second year in a row that a Maryland Farm Bureau member was named as a semi-finalist.

“On behalf of the Maryland Farm Bureau, we are so proud of Richard Francis and all that he has done for the field of agriculture,” said Maryland Farm Bureau President, Wayne Stafford. “[Francis] continues to break down barriers in his community and has been essential in helping create a better quality of life for Baltimore youth. We want to thank him for his leadership, as well as wish him, and the other contestants, the best as they move forward in the competition.”

The 10 semi-finalist teams were awarded $7,500 each. They are:

Francis, and the remaining nine semi-finalist teams, will compete at the AFBF Convention on Friday, Jan. 8, to advance to the final round where the four finalist teams will receive an additional $7,500 for a total of $15,000. The final four teams will compete live in front of Farm Bureau members, investors and industry representatives on Tuesday, Jan. 12, to win:

  • Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year, for a total of $50,000
  • People’s Choice Award, for a total of $20,000

The top 10 semi-finalist teams will participate in pitch training and mentorship from Cornell University’s SC Johnson College of Business faculty, and network with representatives from the Agriculture Department’s Rural Business Investment Companies.

“The hard-working entrepreneurs recognized today are committed to providing solutions for some of the biggest challenges facing agriculture,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “This includes supporting farms, ranches and rural economies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

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, Farm Bureau Financial Services, FMC Corporation and John Deere.

To learn more about the Challenge visit fb.org/challenge

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