While Iowa’s family farms are rooted in the tradition of growing grain and raising livestock, many of today’s young farmers are also looking for innovative ways to step into agriculture or build upon their current operation with new products or experiences. To support and promote these young entrepreneurs, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) has launched its second annual Grow Your Future Award with 10 selected semi-finalists competing for cash prizes to expand their ag businesses.
From Dec. 8-17, the public can learn more about and help narrow these 10 finalists to six remaining competitors by voting for their favorite business at https://iowafarmbureau.wishpondpages.com/iowa-farm-bureau-s-grow-your-future-award-top-10/:
- Brennen Triplett, owner of O’Brien County Ag Supply, offers animal feed, corn and seed beans, fertilizers, chemicals and agronomy assistance to farming customers.
- Amanda Severson manages Grand View Beef, a 100-year-old farm in Wright County raising 100% grass-fed beef with a focus on low-stress animal handling.
- Tanner Sanness raises gourmet mushrooms, organic vegetables and pasture-raised animals on Reconnected Farms located in Allamakee County.
- Shamane Pesek of Delaware County raises fresh flowers grown in Iowa soils and sells direct to consumers through Over the Moon Farm and Flowers.
- Jacob Van Manen of Van Manen Sweet Corn and Fresh Produce in Jasper County specializes in sweet corn but also has expanded his business to sell melons and tomatoes.
- James Holz and Bill Frederick of Greene County run Iowa Cover Crop, a full-service cover crop business offering everything from consultation to seed application.
- Danielle Youngblut owns and operates Gravel Road Sunflowers, a “u-pick” farm located in Story County, which allows visitors to hand select single flowers or their own bouquet.
- Ray Schmidt of Story County uses his business, Farm Story Meats, to bring high-quality meat sourced from Iowa farms direct to consumers while also sharing each farm’s unique story.
- Josie Cable provides horse training, boarding services and confidence-building for youth through riding lessons with her business, Josie’s Riding Experience LLC, in Pottawattamie County.
- Julie Wanders manages Mahaska County’s Wanders Farms LLC which offers corn-finished Black Angus beef, hogs and meat “bundles” direct to consumers.
“Innovation and entrepreneurship are at the heart of Iowa’s farm country, and these young farmers reflect that through the diversity of their businesses,” says Amanda Van Steenwyk, IFBF farm business development manager. “Iowa Farm Bureau is proud to highlight those who seek alternative paths to growing our state’s agricultural heritage, and we hope these entrepreneurs can inspire others to dip their toes in something new.”
After voting has closed, the top six finalists will later participate in a virtual “pitch-off” for a panel of judges. The winners will be announced during the virtual IFBF Young Farmer Conference on Jan. 30. The top prize winner will receive a $7,500 cash prize; 2nd place will receive $5,000; and 3rd place will receive $2,500.