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MAP Brand Promotion - Frequently Asked Questions

GENERAL INFORMATION

What is MAP Brand?
The Market Access Program is a cost-sharing, matching funds program that supports the promotion of branded and private label food and agricultural products in foreign markets. Under Brand Promotion, eligible companies can be reimbursed up to 50% of their approved promotional expenditures in a foreign market. The funding of this program comes from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

Who is eligible to receive funding through the program?
Companies that are defined as "small" by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and farmer cooperatives are eligible to participate in the Branded Program. Generally the following industries must meet the below criteria:

  • Manufacturers < 500 employees
  • Packers < 500 employees
  • Processors < 500 employees
  • Export Agents/Trading Companies < 100 employees
  • Wholesalers < 100 employees
  • Farmer Cooperatives (unlimited)

In addition, a company must:

  • Be incorporated in the United States
  • Have a branded product sourced from the region or an entity within the region that is at least 50% U.S. agricultural origin by weight
  • Be registered in good standing with the State's Secretary of State
  • Promote products as “Made in the USA”
  • Have sufficient product to supply buyers
  • Pay for the promotions in advance
  • Own or have the rights to the brand name
  • Not receive funding from another State Regional Trade Group (SRTG) or cooperator in the same market

Approval of applicants is in the discretion of SUSTA and in accordance with its construction of its purpose.

How much does it cost to participate in the program?
All program participants are required to pay:

  1. A non-refundable $250 Application Fee.
  2. A non-refundable Administration Fee equal to 6% of any approved funding allocation (i.e. a company approved for $10,000 would pay SUSTA a $600 Administration Fee) payable when the Branded contract is awarded.

What are the minimum and maximum amounts of Brand funds that a company can request?
The minimum request level is $2,500 total. This means that companies must spend $5,000 in promotional activities to be reimbursed $2,500 (50%) by SUSTA. The maximum amount that a returning participant can request is $300,000 per program year. First time companies are limited to a total allocation of $25,000, or $50,000 with previous export experience.

How can I determine if my company fits the SBA definition of a small business?
Follow this link: http://www.sba.gov/content/table-small-business-size-standards.

My company does not subscribe to Dun & Bradstreet (D&B). What do we do?
You do not have to subscribe to D&B to obtain a report. Call their Customer Service at 1-800-234-3867 or visit their webpage at www.dnb.com.

Who is the contact at my state department of agriculture?
Refer to SUSTA’s homepage www.susta.org and click on your state for a list of marketing contacts

What types of products are eligible?
Any U.S.-produced/grown branded agricultural products, such as:

  • Fresh Produce
  • High-Value Food Products
  • Snack Foods
  • Condiments & Sauces
  • Specialty Food Items
  • Beverages
  • Aquaculture
  • Some Wood Products
  • Hides & Skins
  • Pet Foods
  • Ornamental Horticulture
  • Health & Beauty Products
  • Pet Bedding
  • Alternative Building Materials
  • Alternative Interior Furnishings

All products must:

  • Be at least 50% U.S. agricultural origin by weight (excluding added water and packaging)
  • Have a brand name
  • Be promoted as “Product of the U.S.A.”, “Grown in the U.S.A.”, “Product of Louisiana”, etc.

What products are NOT eligible?
Products promoted under the program must be at least 50% U.S. agricultural origin by weight excluding added water and packaging. Products must adhere to the regulations listed below. Products that do not comply are not eligible.

  • Products with less than 50% of U.S. origin
  • Products not labeled as “Product of the USA”
  • Products already covered by an FAS cooperator project, export incentive program or state export program
  • Products not listed in the Branded application
  • A branded product without Brand Owner’s Permission for the target market
  • A branded product already covered in a country by another MAP Branded company
  • Products that fall under the domain of the Department of Commerce, i.e. shoes, machinery, textile, etc.

What kinds of activities are eligible?
Many direct marketing and promotional activities are eligible, including:

  • Advertising and public relations (must state the brand name and have a U.S. origin statement)
  • Trade and consumer product demonstrations
  • In-store demonstrations and food tasting
  • International trade show expenses (includes construction of booth, exhibiting fees, international travel, freight, set-up and rental costs, etc.)
  • Some expenses at approved domestic trade shows, if you have not exhibited at the show in the last three years (includes exhibiting fees, freight, set-up and rental costs, etc.). Note that domestic travel costs are not reimbursable!
  • Product literature and point-of-sale materials (must state the brand name and have a U.S. origin statement)
  • Package and label modification of existing labels (if the change is necessary to meet foreign government requirements)
  • Freight costs for samples
  • Promotional gift items (up to $1 or 50% of cost per item, whichever is less)

What kinds of activities are ineligible?
Expenses that are generally considered "costs of doing business" are not eligible for reimbursement. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • All promotions or printed materials that are NOT promoted as “Made in the USA”
  • Product development, product modification, or product research
  • All costs of international travel not specifically in compliance with eligible international travel expenses to overseas trade shows, per guidelines outlined in the Branded Program Manual.
  • All costs for design and production of new packaging and labeling
  • Cost of product samples
  • Market research and consultant fees
  • Administrative expenses, overhead and salaries
  • Slotting fees, licensing fees and other similar sales expenditures
  • Capital expenditures (the purchase of any item with a usable life greater than one year).
  • Non-promotional translation services (routine correspondence, sales meetings, etc.)
  • Internet web site development
  • General company literature that doesn’t include product promotion information.

EXPENSE CLAIMS AND REIMBURSEMENTS

What requirements must I meet in order to get reimbursed through the program?
First, only certain activities are eligible for Branded Program reimbursement (see "What Kinds of Activities are Eligible?" above).

SUSTA cannot reimburse you for ineligible activities! Furthermore, to be eligible for reimbursement, your activities must:

  • Clearly label the product and all printed sales materials with the brand name and identify the origin of the agricultural commodity with one of the following U.S. origin statements: "Product of U.S.A," "Grown in the U.S.", or "Made in America". Reference to "America" or a state name in the product brand name does not satisfy this requirement!
  • Be included in a pre-approved marketing plan for the country where the activity is being undertaken
  • Occur after your documented "approval date" and before the conclusion of the program year
  • Comply with all federal travel regulations, if you want to claim reimbursement for international travel to overseas trade shows
  • Comply with any other rules and regulations that may be required for specific types of activities

When do participating companies receive the funding allocated to them?
Companies receive the funding on a 50% cost reimbursement basis, only after their pre-approved promotional activity has been completed and SUSTA receives and processes the claim with the required supporting documentation.

How long does a company have to spend the allocated funds?
Branded Program funding is allocated on a program year basis.

If a company applies by the priority deadline, they will receive documented approval before the program year begins and have twelve months to carry out marketing activities and spend the allocation.

If a company applies after the priority deadline , they will be eligible to begin spending the allocation after the documented approval date. Activities carried out prior to the company’s "official approval date" for that activity cannot be reimbursed under any circumstances.

How long does it take to get reimbursed for an eligible expense?
SUSTA receives hundreds of requests for reimbursement each year. Expense claims must be submitted within 60 days of the activity. Requests are processed in the order received. Generally, if we do not require any additional information or documentation from you, we can usually reimburse you in 7-10 days. (This takes into account the time it takes SUSTA to request and receive your company’s funding from FAS.)

If additional information is needed to process your request, you will be notified as soon as possible. In this instance, the time it takes us to reimburse you is solely dependent upon your ability to provide us with the additional information/documentation that we require. The quicker you submit the additional information, the quicker we will reimburse you. You must submit additional information within 30 days. If we require additional information to process your reimbursement request, it may take longer than 30 days to process your request

How many years can I participate in the program?
There is no limit to the total number of years you can participate in the program. However, you can only use the funding (receive reimbursement) for a maximum of five years in any one country (including the United States).

Can foreign representatives/agents be reimbursed for expenses?
Yes, but not directly. The participant in the Branded Program must first pay their foreign agent or representative before it can submit the eligible expenses to SUSTA for 50% cost reimbursement.

If I am going to a trade show like ANUGA, why do I have to do a Country Marketing Plan for Germany? I don’t sell anything in Germany; all my customers are in Spain. I am just going to the show to meet with them. Shouldn’t I put it under Spain?
The Branded program is country specific and is only reimbursable that way. ANUGA occurs in Germany so if a company wants to be reimbursed for it, Germany must be listed as one of the markets in its Branded Application.

Can the program reimburse for the packaging and labeling costs?
Yes, the program can reimburse the cost to redesign and print labels in order to meet the target country's importation regulations. This means you must already have labels for your product. This is a one-time reimbursable expense, unless the country labeling requirements change again.

No, the program cannot reimburse for new product labels, label reprints, or the cost of submitting your application with the foreign government (i.e. Mexico’s Constancia process.)

NOTE: Your domestic labels and packages must already contain a U.S. origin statement before SUSTA can approve your request for changes required by the importing country.

Can the program cover the cost of my travel to another country?
It depends.

Yes, the program can cover travel for up to two company employees to exhibit at an international trade show.

No, the program cannot cover travel for a business meeting, domestic trade show, business seminar, or to "walk the floor" at an international trade show.

Can I be reimbursed for my international travel using electronic ticketing (“E-ticket”)?
FAS allows the reimbursement of allowable travel using E-tickets if each traveler is able to document the costs of EACH segment of a flight, including complete routing codes and the fare amount charged. In other words, the E-ticket itinerary MUST include:

  • Complete routing codes (i.e. layover and flight information for each segment of a trip in which a change of airplane or flight designation is made), and
  • The fare amount charged (i.e. point-to-point faring)

Reasonable costs charged by the travel agent or other ticketing sources to provide this information are reimbursable.

What happens if I travel or upgrade from Coach fare to Business or First Class?
If you travel business or first class on any or all the segments, you must be able to document what the full coach fares would have been for EACH of the segments at the time of booking. If the trip is a simple round-trip flight, you may go to a website like Travelocity.com or Expedia.com and use information from that source as the documentation. This information is necessary to determine the eligibility for reimbursement of each particular leg of a journey.

Why do I have to notify the FAS office in my target country?
It is a federal regulation that persons traveling and being reimbursed under MAP Branded must notify that office. It also gives you a chance to introduce your company to USDA’s Agricultural Trade Officers (ATO) that may be able to assist you in your endeavors. ATOs can provide market information and they may assist in arranging meetings with potential buyers. If you give them enough lead-time, they could possibly arrange something to correspond with the trade show.

Can I get reimbursed for the travel and trade show activities if I do not notify the FAS field office?
NO! You must fax or email FAS Post Notification Form preferably 45 days prior to departure, but definitely before you depart for the country. You must keep your fax transmittal sheet or print your email and submit it with your Travel Expense Reimbursement Form.

If the people that are traveling change for any reason, do I have to re-notify the FAS field office of the new travelers?
YES! You must submit the updated transmittal sheet with your Travel Expense Reimbursement Form.

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