From the Desk of the CEO: June 2024

Empowering Food Businesses

Dear Food Export Stakeholders, 

I am excited to amplify transformative news that directly impacts you and the future of our collaboration. We have achieved an unprecedented milestone by securing the largest individual funding awards in our organizations’ history through the USDA’s Regional Agricultural Promotion Program (RAPP). This record funding — $15.5 million for Food Export Midwest and $17.5 million for Food Export Northeast — demonstrates the power of our shared mission and the exceptional performance of our staff, partners, and small- and medium-sized food and agricultural businesses in the Midwest and Northeast. 

What This Means for You 

1. Immediate Impact and Strategic Growth 

This significant funding will allow us to address the critical gaps left by the sunset of the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP)  and pave the way for multi-year growth. Specifically, we will focus on several key areas: 

  • Branded Program: Approximately half of the awards will be dedicated to our cost-share reimbursement program, ensuring substantial investments into eligible businesses across the Midwest and Northeast. This means more opportunities for you to enhance your market presence and grow your business. With a record-breaking waitlist for this program, the Branded team is moving quickly to engage with current and soon-to-be participants on putting RAPP dollars to work. 
  • Diverse Market Opportunities: We are targeting high-growth potential markets in regions like Africa and India, providing you with new avenues for expansion. Our strategic initiatives will create fertile ground for your products to reach new customers and diversify your market base. This enhances the portfolio of dozens of other markets that Food Export currently offers. 
  • Educational Initiatives: We will expand our robust exporter education tools to equip you with the latest knowledge and skills to navigate the international marketplace effectively. It is critical that on-ramps to exporting are clear and practical. 

2. Strong Resource Management and Strategic Decision-Making 

While we celebrate this remarkable achievement, we also recognize the need for prudent resource management. The funds received, although substantial, are less than initially requested. Therefore, we will be making critical decisions regarding priorities and resource allocation to ensure the maximum impact of every dollar spent. This means our investments will be guided by strategic, well-informed decisions to drive the best outcomes for your business. 

3. Positioning for Future Funding 

Our vision extends beyond the immediate benefits of the current funding. We are positioning ourselves to secure additional funding opportunities by demonstrating a strong return on investment to the American taxpayer by fully leveraging the awarded resources, demonstrating quantifiable impact, and sharing compelling success stories. This forward-thinking approach ensures that we remain a reliable and robust partner to the state and federal government, continually striving to create more opportunities for businesses in our regions. Right now, there are proposals in Congress to increase the Market Access Program (MAP) funding in the next Farm Bill, another indicator that this mission is important, and that Food Export needs to ensure it stays in a position to take advantage on behalf of our regions. 

Looking Forward 

A strategic planning process is underway, and it’s designed to be a roadmap for living our vision and driving sustained, impactful growth. It is a tool for us to manage change, follow through on our commitments, and keep our stakeholders informed, aligned, and engaged. We are simplifying success by making exporting value-added food, agricultural, seafood, and forestry products more accessible and low-risk for small- and medium-sized enterprises. We aim to enrich exchange by creating a global network where the finest products from our regions are sought after, and we are realizing resources by forming strong partnerships and optimizing the use of public resources for the benefit of businesses and communities. 

I must also extend our gratitude to the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as our 23 member state Departments of Agriculture, for their unwavering support and collaboration, which have been instrumental in securing this funding and driving our initiatives forward. 

We are here to support your growth, open new markets, and ensure your success in the global arena. Together, we are building a brighter, more prosperous future for all. 

Thank you for your continued trust and partnership. 


Brendan Wilson 

CEO/Executive Director 

Your Input Matters: If there is a topic you wish for me to discuss in this space, let me know. You can reach me at Just put Attn: Brendan Wilson in the subject line.