The American Farm Bureau Federation, in partnership with Farm Credit, has announced Michigan-based AgHelp Corp. of Belding, Michigan has been chosen as one of the final four teams in the 2019 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge. AgHelp Corp, led by founder Feliciano Paredes, will participate in a live pitch competition at AFBF’s 100th Annual Convention in New Orleans on Jan. 13. The final four teams will compete to win:
- Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneur of the Year award and $15,000 (chosen by judges), for a total of $30,000 (teams selected in the top 10 earlier this year were awarded a $10,000 startup fund, with final four teams receiving an additional $5,000).
- People’s Choice award and $10,000 (chosen by public vote), for a total of $25,000.
AgHelp Corp. has developed an agricultural “app-based” employment recruitment tool that will link interested farmers and potential employees together. It will be used for both domestic and H-2A Seasonal Guest Worker recruitment.
“We’re very excited and honored to be selected into the Final Four,” said Feliciano Paredes. “This is a great opportunity to showcase our solution to one of agriculture’s most pressing problems. We're very excited to show the type of innovation that's coming out of Michigan too. Being recognized as innovators in this space is what we are striving to do now and as AgHelp grows.”
Farm Bureau members attending the convention are encouraged to watch the four finalists compete live on the Cultivation Center Stage at the IDEAg Tradeshow on Sunday, Jan. 13 at 11:00am. For members not attending the convention, they can tune into a live stream of the competition available on our website, fb.org.
County Farm Bureau members from across Michigan are encouraged to vote for AgHelp Corp. who will win an additional $10,000 as the People’s Choice award winner. Farm Bureau members will be able to vote for their favorite team on the AFBF Annual Convention App.
“It’s an honor to recognize these four outstanding rural businesses for advancing in the Ag Innovation Challenge,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “Starting rural businesses takes faith, courage and creativity. We wish all of these entrepreneurs well as they continue striving to take their food and agriculture businesses to the next level.”
The four finalist teams were awarded $15,000 each. Along with AgHelp Corp. are:
Elite OviGen Inc., Beverly Hills, Florida. Team lead: Anette Skoog
FarmlandFinder, Ames, Iowa. Team lead: Steven Brockshus
Glean LLC, Farmville, North Carolina. Team lead: Laura Hearn
Startup funds for the 2019 Ag Innovation Challenge are provided by sponsors Farm Credit, John Deere, Bayer Crop Science, Country Financial, Farm Bureau Financial Services, Farm Bureau Bank. The competition provides an opportunity for individuals to showcase ideas and business innovations in agriculture. This is the fifth year of the Challenge, which is the first national business competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs launching food and agriculture businesses.