The Southern United States Trade Association (SUSTA) calls it the best kept secret in export assistance.
In 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) allocated more than $95 million under two programs—the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP)—to assist smaller-size U.S. companies in promoting branded value-added foods and agricultural products internationally.
A good portion of that money is rolling over into 2020, plus USDA will be adding somewhere in the neighborhood of $40 million in additional funding under MAP for the coming year.
“People don’t know the programs, so they don’t ask questions and they don’t pursue them,” SUSTA noted at a recent meeting outlining the opportunity. “We want to get the word out and assist U.S. companies with creating and expanding export markets.”
Purpose and uses
The programs are administered through SUSTA and the three other U.S. State Regional Trade Groups (SRTGs): the Western U.S. Agricultural Trade Association (WUSATA), Food Export USA-Northeast and Food Export Association of the Midwest USA. Each group refers to the programs under its own moniker: SUSTA calls it “CostShare;” WUSATA calls it “FundMatch;” and Food Export Midwest and Northeast call it “Branded.”
The money is earmarked for branded company activities, as opposed to separate MAP and ATP money allocated to organizations like USDEC for generic export promotion activities.
U.S. dairy suppliers can apply for the funds for a variety of endeavors, including advertising, trade shows exhibitions, in-store demos and displays, packaging and label changes, certain travel expenses, website development and other marketing expenses.
They are matching programs, meaning USDA will reimburse for up to 50% of the costs associated with a qualifying project. For a trade show, for example, covered costs (at 50%) would not only include exhibitor fees and trade show advertising, but round trip international plane fare and per diem rates for lodging and meals and incidental expenses.
The maximum reimbursement is $300,000 for each of the MAP and ATP programs. That means the two together could potentially pay a company $600,000 in a single year. The minimum reimbursement level for a single project is $2,500, meaning a company would need to spend at least $5,000 on the proposed activity for it to qualify for the programs.
Process and eligibility
The best way to determine if your company, product and project would qualify under the MAP or ATP branded programs is to contact your respective SRTG office. Your SRTG office is based on where your company is headquartered. (See map below for the regional divisions and contact information for the four offices.)
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