Cotton: Substantial Producer Participation Needed For Successful Sustainability Initiative

    As more and more U.S. cotton producers choose to enroll in the U.S Cotton Trust Protocol, they are signaling to the world that U.S. cotton is serious about setting a new standard for sustainability.

    The Trust Protocol, launched in 2019, is an integrated data collection, measurement and verification procedure that will document U.S. cotton production practices and their environmental impact. The data is intended to benchmark U.S. cotton producers’ gains towards reaching (by 2025) the U.S. cotton industry’s national sustainability goals:

    • 13% increase in productivity, i.e. reduced land use per pound of fiber;
    • 18% increase in irrigation efficiency;
    • 39% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions;
    • 15% reduction in energy use;
    • 50% reduction in soil loss; and
    • 30% increase in soil carbon.

    These goals are in line with United Nations’ sustainability goals. Importantly, U.S. cotton producers’ commitment to these goals through the Trust Protocol will provide the global textile supply chain much needed additional assurances that U.S. cotton is produced in a responsible manner.

    The Trust Protocol’s mission, in fact, is aimed at meeting U.S. cotton customers’ sustainability needs while 2) providing transparency on U.S. cotton industry efforts to promote farmer economic livelihood, environmental stewardship, caring of people/community, and personal/corporate integrity.

    Producers’ involvement in the voluntary Trust Protocol provides them a unique opportunity to examine their farming operations for areas where further changes can be made – a step that not only should reduce their environmental footprint but benefit their bottom line.

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    Some 300 U.S. cotton producers participated in a pilot of the Trust Protocol which was launched this past July. The National Cotton Council is optimistic that 500-750 producers will be enrolled by December 2020 – and vigorous recruitment across the Cotton Belt will be perpetual.

    Trust Protocol enrollees complete a self-assessment of their farming practices via a questionnaire and their field data is shared through Field to Market’s Fieldprint Platform. Control Union Certifications North America verifies the Trust Protocol annual data that will highlight the sustainability metrics – land use, soil carbon, water management, soil loss, greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency.

    Trust Protocol information, including a question/answer, is at – where producers can enroll. That site also contains information about how to sign up for Trust Protocol information/enrollment process webinars to be held on October 1, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, and 15; on November 12; and on December 10.

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