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Supporting U.S. Agriculture Abroad


Big Picture Report: August 2023
Bernadette Wiltz-Lang, SUSTA

Looking Back at the History of FAS

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of representing SUSTA at a commemorative event at USDA for the 70th anniversary of the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). Allow me, in this 50th anniversary year for SUSTA, to share a brief history of both FAS and the strong FAS/SUSTA partnership that supports your marketing activities around the globe.

USDA has a long history of involvement in trade policy and gathering market intelligence related to agriculture – dating back to the first overseas posting of an agency employee in London in 1882, to the creation of the Foreign Markets Section of the USDA Division of Statistics in 1894.

Fast forward to 1953, and President Eisenhower’s Agriculture Secretary, Ezra Taft Benson, formed what we now know as FAS. Its mission of linking U.S. agriculture to the world to enhance export opportunities and global food security is still in effect today. And the results have been tremendous. In 2022, U.S. agricultural exports reached a new record - $196.4 billion!

In 1955, FAS signed its first cooperative agreement with a commodity producer group, the National Cotton Council, to conduct export market development. In 1973,SUSTA was created as a state regional trade group cooperator with FAS. For the past five decades, SUSTA has worked closely with FAS to promote food and agricultural products from the Southern U.S. around the globe through the Market Access Program (MAP).

SUSTA works closely with FAS overseas posts, which number nearly 100, covering about 180 countries. Those foreign offices provide market intelligence and reports to SUSTA member states and our participants, which are small agri-businesses. We hear over and over that the resources we offer make a huge difference. Many small agri-businesses would not even consider international markets without the support, which is 50 years tried and tested, of SUSTA’s programs.

I was grateful for the opportunity to be part of the FAS anniversary celebration and to say thanks for seven decades of service and support of U.S. agriculture.

With 50 years behind us here at SUSTA, we’re looking forward to the next 50! As of August 1, you’re now able to reconfirm your MySUSTA account details for 2024 and be ready to start off the next 50 years for SUSTA.