The American Farm Bureau Federation, in partnership with Farm Credit, is seeking entrepreneurs to apply online by June 15 for the 2025 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge. Now in its 11th year, this national business competition showcases U.S. startup companies developing innovative solutions to challenges faced by America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities.

In 2018, Tucson, Arizona’s Merchant’s Garden AgroTech earned a nationwide semifinalist spot with nine others in this national Innovation Challenge competition. Semi-finalists that year received $10,000 each. “Being named a Top 10 Innovation from the American Farm Bureau, the largest farm organization in the world, brought significant value to our company beyond the $10,000 in cash award,” said Merchant’s Garden owner and Arizona Farm Bureau member Chaz Shelton.

Since then, Arizona Farm Bureau has had other volunteer member leaders submit to compete in the Innovation Challenge. We’re hoping for at least another top ten this year. But you must be a Farm Bureau member and you must apply to compete.

“We know that in order to curb the migration of youth and big thinkers out of rural communities we need to provide opportunities for them to shine and expand entrepreneurial activities,” says Arizona Farm Bureau President and southern Arizona rancher Stefanie Smallhouse. “Strong communities depend on small businesses and the entrepreneurial spirit. We have already seen some great innovation in Arizona agriculture, and I would encourage others to take on this challenge.”

The overall winner of the competition will receive $100,000 in startup funds, the runner-up will be awarded $25,000 and two additional business owners who advance to the final-four round will receive $10,000.

“Imagine what $100,000 could do for your business,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “We’ve doubled the prize and doubled the impact.”

American Farm Bureau is offering a total of $145,000 in startup funds throughout the course of the competition. After the application period closes, 10 semi-finalist teams will be selected and announced on Sept. 3. Next, the 10 semi-finalist teams will pitch virtually to compete for a spot in the final four round of the contest.

The final four teams will be awarded $10,000 each and participate in a live pitch competition in front of Farm Bureau members, investors and industry representatives at the AFBF Convention in January 2025 in San Antonio, Texas, to win:

  • Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge Winner, $90,000 (total of $100,000)
  • Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge Runner-up, $15,000 (total of $25,000)

Farm Bureau is proud to recognize these innovative businesses, in partnership with sponsors Farm Credit, Bayer Crop Science, John Deere, Farm Bureau Bank, Farm Bureau Financial Services and T-Mobile.

Recent winners of the Ag Innovation Challenge include Barn Owl Precision Agriculture, a company that manufactures a fully autonomous robot that supports farmers as they plant crops, control weeds and collect soil samples (2024 Ag Innovation Challenge Winner) and NORDEF, a company that developed technology to produce diesel exhaust fluid at the point of use (2023 Ag Innovation Challenge Winner). Other examples of successful Ag Innovation Challenge participants, as well as detailed eligibility guidelines and the competition timeline, can be found at

Entrepreneurs must be members of a county or parish Farm Bureau within their state of residence to qualify as top 10 semi-finalists. Applicants who are not Farm Bureau members can visit to learn about becoming a member.

Editor's Note: Applications must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on June 15.