The Iowa Farm Bureau Fed­eration (IFBF) is calling on Iowa's rural entrepreneurs to consider entering the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge.

In its fourth year, the AFBF contest is designed to promote rural economic growth by recognizing entrepreneurs who are starting businesses that incorporate a food or agriculture business.

This year, AFBF has broadened the Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge to include six categories: best farm startup, best local product startup, best agritourism startup, best farm-to-table startup, best ag tech and support services startup and best craft beverages startup. The winner in each category will be awarded $10,000.

Two Iowa companies that participated in the IFBF’s successful Renew Rural Iowa program were the first two winners of the national contest.

ScoutPro, a crop-scouting business that started in Lone Tree, won the inaugural contest in 2015. AccuGrain, a Rose Hill-based company that utilizes X-ray technology to provide real-time grain inventory management, took the top prize in 2016. In addition, Iowa has also had five startups make the top 10 in the AFBF contest.

The AFBF contest has been a great showcase for Iowa’s growing strength in rural entrepreneurship, said Sandy Ehrig, IFBF economic development administrator. "Other states are looking at Renew Rural Iowa to gather insights to spur more rural entrepreneurship to create economic activity and jobs in their rural communities," she said.

Renew Rural Iowa, which was launched a decade ago, provides education, mentoring, recognition connections and potential financing for rural entrepreneurs. Since it was launched in 2006, Renew Rural Iowa has mentored more than 3,000 Iowans and has had a positive economic impact in the state worth more than $125 million.

Iowans interested in learning more about the AFBF Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge and entering the contest can click on the "Learn More" button below. The deadline for entries is June 30, 2017.

Entrepreneurs with questions about the competition or about the application process can call 800-254-9670 to talk with Ehrig or Adam Koppes, IFBF investment manager.