DAVIDSONVILLE, Md. — The American Farm Bureau Federation, in partnership with Farm Credit, has announced the 10 semi-finalist teams in the 2020 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge. Baltimore-based company HiveLend was selected as a semi-finalist, receiving $10,000 in start-up funds.
“These hard-working entrepreneurs have demonstrated their commitment to take on some of the biggest challenges in agriculture. Their innovation will help American farmers continue to grow healthy, affordable products for consumers,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “It’s a pleasure to recognize and award these outstanding businesses to help them deliver solutions that will drive U.S. agriculture forward.”
HiveLend was founded by Dawn Musil and Nick Zajciw to make connections between beekeepers and farmers simple and convenient. The company aims to promote conscious sustainable agriculture, improve crop yields and reduce travel times, decrease paperwork by simplifying the process, and help facilitate the sale of hive products for beekeepers.
Geolocation technology allows farmers and beekeepers alike to search for parties in need of pollination contracts. The HiveLend system is intended to streamline negotiations to get contracts put together quickly. Payments between contracts are also handled on the site.
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to represent the current and ever-growing ag tech sector in Maryland,” said Musil. “We are humbled and excited about this opportunity to grow HiveLend further in Maryland and beyond.”
The Ag Innovation Challenge provides an opportunity for individuals to showcase ideas and business innovations in agriculture. This is the sixth year of the Challenge, which was the first national business competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs launching food and agriculture businesses.
Farm Bureau would not be able to recognize and support these rural businesses without generous funding provided by sponsors Farm Credit, Bayer Crop Science, John Deere, Country Financial, Farm Bureau Financial Services and Farm Bureau Bank.
Other semi-finalists include:
- Ag Butler, Lebanon, Missouri
- Green State Biochar, Barton, Vermont
- HydroSide Systems LLC, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
- Innovative Agricultural Technologies, LLC, Carthage, North Carolina
- Rantizo, Iowa City, Iowa
- Re-Nuble, New York, New York
- SwineSentinel, Ames, Iowa
- The Bene Baby Company, Inc, Nekoosa, Wisconsin
- Tractor Zoom, Waukee, Iowa
Semi-finalist teams will have the opportunity to participate in pitch training provided by Cornell University and will travel to the AFBF Annual Convention in Austin, Texas, in January to compete to be the Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year. The 10 semi-finalists will compete on Friday, Jan. 17. The final four teams will advance to compete on Sunday, Jan. 19, with the opportunity to win:
- Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneur of the Year for a total of $30,000
- People’s Choice Award (chosen by public vote), for a total of $25,000
To learn more about the Challenge visit www.fb.org/challenge.
–Emily Solis, Maryland Farm Bureau