An unidentified winner of the American Farm Bureau Federation's 2017 Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge shows her products to potential investors at the Agriculture Investment Summit. / Courtesy AFBF

An unidentified winner of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2017 Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge shows her products to potential investors at the Agriculture Investment Summit. / Courtesy AFBF

Applicants in the American Farm Bureau Federation‘s (AFBF) 2018 Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge include 21 Florida enterprises.

The national competition, held annually, will award a total of $145,000 for innovative rural businesses. The money will be used to support the winners’ forward-looking business ideas.

According to Lisa Benson, AFBF’s director of rural development, the outside judges who review the applications consider a range of agricultural and food-related business activities, from production to marketing. “This program is a way to help rural business owners get started,” she said.


The winner of the top award, Entrepreneur of the Year, receives $30,000; the People’s Choice Award winner receives $25,000; two runner-ups get $15,000 each; and six other competitors earn $10,000 each.

The 21 Florida applicants, their cities and their categories are:

1) Andalusia Cattle Co. and Wagon Tails Ranch Rides; Bunnell; agritourism

2) Dutch Mill Nursery; Sanford; local product

3) Smith Family Ranch; Lakeland; agritourism

4) Brewification.com; Tallahassee; craft beverage

5) Live Advantage Bait; Jupiter; farm

6) Alvarez Farms; Raiford; farm-to-table

7) Smith Agricultural Enterprises; Sebring; farm

8) Smith Family Poultry Farm; Palmetto; farm-to-table

9) Sokol Vineyards; Morriston; farm

10) Integral Aquaculture Services; Tavernier; farm-to-table

11) Gulf Coast Tung Oil; Tallahassee; local product

12) Positively Berries; Tampa; local product

13) ANA Ranch; Myakka City; farm-to-table

14) Christian J. Ramthun Inc.; Tampa; local product

15) Denney Farms; Dade City; farm

16) Grocery Hound; Fort Myers; farm-to-table

17) Phillips Bee Farm; Ocala; farm

18) Skoog’s Sheep and Cattle Co.; Citrus Springs; farm

19) Southern Farms; Live Oak; farm

20) Two Frog Farm; Quincy; farm

21) Wimauma Roots; Wimauma; local product

Winners will be announced in October. The 10 winners nationwide in the Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge also can participate in the Agriculture Investment Summit, which connects rural entrepreneurs with representatives of venture-capital funds. The summit will be part of the 2018 American Farm Bureau Foundation Convention, set for January.

For more information about the American Farm Bureau Foundation, visit agfoundation.org.