Southern United States Trade Association (SUSTA) – Strategic and Operational Plan

ChallengeFounded in 1973, the Southern United States Trade Association (SUSTA) is a non-profit agricultural export trade development association that represents the departments of agriculture of 15 southern states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. SUSTA combines federal, state, and industry resources to help introduce U.S. manufacturers and producers to new markets and expand the demand for American food and agricultural products. SUSTA has overcome staffing shortages, a change in leadership, and the disruption of its New Orleans headquarters by Hurricane Katrina. Despite these hurdles, the organization continues to serve hundreds of agricultural producers and to maintain good relationships with its constituents.

ApproachTIP Strategies, together with MGT of America, was engaged by SUSTA to develop a strategic and operational plan for the organization. The purpose of this work was to help SUSTA maximize exports of agricultural products through effective administration and execution of the Market Access Program (MAP), an initiative of the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. The plan is the culmination of the consulting team’s extensive analysis using both qualitative and quantitative methods.

The strategies and recommendations were informed by a number of tasks, including:
-an analysis of the organization’s strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats (SWOT);
-site visits to SUSTA’s New Orleans office to review operational procedures and gather input from staff;
-an analysis of export growth and market conditions in more than 200 countries; and
-interviews with key stakeholders, including the state departments of agriculture staff, Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) personnel, participating companies, and other consultants working with SUSTA.

OutcomeSUSTA operates in a unique environment, juggling private sector needs and expectations with those of its member states, while interpreting complex and changing federal regulations and watching global market conditions. The strategic and operational plan provides guidance on key issues, including standardizing agency operations and procedures, leveraging available resources to increase participation in SUSTA activities, strengthening relationships with the organization’s varied constituent groups, and raising awareness about the organization and its mission.

TIP Contact Tom Stellman