Matching Funds Program Helps Small Companies Expand Food and Agricultural Exports

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Small U.S. food and agricultural businesses can apply for international marketing funds beginning August 1, 2009.

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Four non-profit associations known as State Regional Trade Groups (SRTGs) expect many small food and agricultural businesses to increase their exports in 2010 with the help of Branded Program funding, which reimburses qualified companies for half the costs of promoting their products overseas. The Branded Program can benefit these small firms particularly during recessionary periods, as it effectively allows small companies to double their overseas marketing budgets. A variety of funding levels is available, allowing businesses to greatly expand the amount they spend on international marketing. The SRTGs are now accepting applications for the 2010 program year.    

The Branded Program is funded through the Market Access Program (MAP) from the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). Companies can defray 50 percent of the cost of traveling and exhibiting at international trade shows, as well as expenses such as advertising, product demonstrations in foreign countries, trade show giveaways, and changes to labels and packaging. Once a company is pre-qualified by submitting a worksheet to the SRTG that serves the region where they are located, the remaining application process for the Branded Program includes a budget summary, marketing plan and certification page. The 2010 program year application fee is $250.

The Branded Program is available to companies that are defined as "small" under the U.S. Small Business Administration's guidelines. Agricultural cooperatives of any size are also eligible to apply for funding. To qualify for promotion under the Branded Program, products must contain at least 50 percent U.S. agricultural ingredients and must be labeled as "Product of the USA." Value-added agricultural goods like food ingredients, consumer foods, pet food and animal feeds, certain wood products, and other agricultural items qualify for the program.

Midwestern States    
Food Export Association of the Midwest USA    
http://www.brandedprogram.org
Michelle Rogowski
Ph. 312.334.9200

Northeastern States    
Food Export USA - Northeast    
http://www.brandedprogram.org
Antoniya Gospodinova
Ph. 215.829.9111

Southern States    
Southern U.S. Trade Association (SUSTA)    
http://www.susta.org/services/map.html
Deneen Wiltz
Ph. 504.568.5986

Western States    
Western United States Agricultural Trade Association (WUSATA)    
http://www.wusata.org
Ann Buczkowski
Ph. 360.693.3373

About the SRTGs
The four State Regional Trade Groups (SRTGs) include Food Export Association of the Midwest USA, Food Export USA - Northeast, Southern United States Trade Association, and Western United States Agricultural Trade Association. These organizations provide a full range of programs and services to assist companies with their export efforts. The SRTGs work closely with state Departments of Agriculture and administer many services through Market Access Program (MAP) funding from the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

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