Steven Brockshus of FarmlandFinder accepts the Rural Entrepreneur of the Year Award from AFBF Vice President Scott VanderWal. Credit: AFBF

FarmlandFinder is the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Rural Entrepreneur of the Year, AFBF officials said today. Team lead Steven Brockshus won the Ag Innovation Challenge by beating three other teams from across the nation. AFBF, in partnership with Farm Credit, announced the winner at AFBF’s 100th Annual Convention.

Iowa-based FarmlandFinder, which aims to make the world’s farmland-availability information accessible, took home an additional $15,000 for a total of $30,000 in prize money as Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneur of the Year.

Glean LLC of North Carolina won the People’s Choice Award (chosen by public vote) in the competition and an additional $10,000 in prize money, for a total of $25,000. Glean LLC produces healthy and fresh foods made from fruits and vegetables. Laura Hearn and Will Kornegay are team leads for Glean LLC.

AgHelp Corp. of Michigan, led by Feliciano Paredes, and Elite OviGen Inc. of Florida, led by Anette Skoog, were the other two finalists who competed in the final round of the challenge in New Orleans.

The final four teams competed for the award by pitching their business ideas to a panel of judges before a live audience on Jan. 13. They each received $15,000 in December and advanced in the competition.

“We’re proud to recognize these outstanding rural businesses and entrepreneurs,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “The faith, courage and creativity these entrepreneurs have shown in starting their rural businesses is commendable.”

Will Kornegay and Laura Hearn of Glean LLC accept the People’s Choice Award from AFBF Vice President Scott VanderWal. Credit: AFBF

The challenge, now in its fifth year, provides opportunities for individuals to showcase business innovations being developed in rural regions of the U.S. It is the first national business competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs working on food and agriculture businesses. The top challenge teams were selected by judges with expertise in business development, equity investment funding management, agribusiness lending and entrepreneurial coaching.

Farm Bureau would not be able to recognize and support these rural businesses without generous funding provided by sponsors Farm Credit, John Deere, Country Financial, Farm Bureau Financial Services and Farm Bureau Bank.

The final four teams were part of a group of 10 semi-finalist teams announced in October that were awarded $10,000 each in startup funds. The semi-finalist teams were selected by judges with expertise in business development, agribusiness lending and entrepreneurial coaching.

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