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The Why Behind the What SUSTA Does


Big Picture Report: May 2024
Bernadette Wiltz-Lang, SUSTA

SUSTA takes great pride in helping small and medium-sized companies in the Southern United States promote value-added U.S. food and agricultural products in global markets. We’ve been at it for more than 50 years.

SUSTA is a non-profit organization made up of the state Departments of Agriculture in 14 Southern states and Puerto Rico. Our mission is to support export promotion and share the costs of international marketing through USDA’s Market Access Program (MAP). SUSTA is here to help companies like yours achieve export success. But that you already knew.

Understanding why we do what we do is important as well. We want to help your company succeed and grow. With 95 percent of the world’s consumers outside the U.S., export promotion is a path to growth opportunities. We want to help your company explore those possibilities. SUSTA stands ready to help your company’s export marketing through our key programs including Global Events, 50% Cost Share and our exporter readiness training and education activities.

There is a bigger picture as well. Exports are big business for the Southern U.S. A recent article in Southern Ag Today, based on USDA data from USDA and analysis from the University of Kentucky, does a great job in putting into perspective just how important exports are to the agriculture and food sectors in the South. Indeed, agricultural exports represent about one-third of total farm cash receipts in the South.

Per USDA, five of the eight largest U.S. agricultural ports by volume are located in the Southern region, accounting for 60 percent of U.S. agricultural export volume over the past five years. The Southern region truly is the gateway to global markets and our small and medium sized companies are well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities.

Exports of value added foods, food ingredients, horticulture, seafood, wood species, and even the beer, wine and spirits are an important economic driver. Export sales of these products also support business output, employment, income, and purchasing power across the region. According to the USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) each dollar of these high value food and agricultural exports supports a total of $2.26 in business activity. That additional economic impact comes through transporting, processing, packaging and other services.

The bottom-line, we are all in this together.