Trade association offers Manatee County businesses an opportunity to go global

April 2, 2013 

The Southern United States Trade Association (SUSTA) is accepting applications to help companies promote their food and agriculture products internationally.

SUSTA, through the federal Market Access Program, reimburses companies up to 50 percent of their export promotional costs - such as product advertising in foreign markets, exhibiting at international trade shows and adapting their product labels for foreign laws - to help them become competitive in global markets. Last year, companies enrolled in SUSTA's programs exported more than $41 million in American food and agriculture thanks to the funding and assistance.

"Demand for American food and agriculture is rising sharply around the world, particularly among growing middle classes that recognize our products for their quality and safety," said SUSTA's executive director, Jerry Hingle. "We're always thrilled to see small businesses tap new export markets that otherwise are unreachable without the assistance we offer."

The Market Access Program is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), and SUSTA directs money to small- and medium-sized companies based in the southern U.S.

"Funding is limited, so we encourage companies that want to take advantage of this program over the coming year to get their applications in early," said deputy director Bernadette Wiltz. "The process is very easy, and we gladly walk applicants through it all." To be eligible, companies must be considered small according to U.S. Small Business Administration standards, have yearly sales of at least $100,000 and promote a brand-name product that is of at least 50 percent U.S. agricultural origin..

Companies can complete a pre-qualification form on SUSTA's web site, Additional information is available by calling (504) 568-5986.

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