Ted Schneider, president of Cotton Council International, says he could make the argument that “U.S. cotton is already among the most sustainably produced in the world.”
Speaking at the Cotton Sourcing USA Summit in Scottsdale, Arizona this week, Schneider introduced the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol – an integrated data collection, measurement and verification procedure that will document U.S. cotton production practices and their environmental impact.
Schneider told more than 400 attending the Summit that the data will benchmark farmers’ gains towards the industry goals and provide the global textile supply chain additional assurances that U.S. cotton is produced in a responsible manner.
The U.S. cotton national sustainability goals by 2025 include:
- 13% Increase in productivity – reduced land use per pound of fiber
- 18% Increase in irrigation efficiency
- 39% Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
- 15% Reduction in energy expenditures
- 50% Reduction in soil loss
- 30% Increase in soil carbon
“We know that U.S. cotton growers continue to embrace new technologies and management techniques that reduce impact and increase yield, but today’s textile industry needs more than just our word,” Schneider explained. “The Trust Protocol is meant to address that need with a tangible and transparent snapshot of U.S. cotton growing practices and the gains resulting from them.”
The details of the Protocol are being fine-tuned, and a pilot program will be launched in 2019 and fully implemented with the 2020 cotton crop year. Participating growers would be required to adopt a data tool that allows for the quantitative measurement of key sustainability metrics, such as the FieldPrint Platform from Field to Market.
Growers also would complete a self-assessment checklist of best management practices with a sampling of participating producers subjected to independent verification. The online interface and associated databases are currently being developed by a Memphis-based company The Seam.