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Cotton LEADS™ Plugs Responsible U.S., Australian Practices

Cotton Incorporated, Cary, N.C.; the National Cotton Council of America, Memphis, Tenn., and its export promotion arm Cotton Council International; and Cotton Australia have established the Cotton LEADS™ program to raise awareness of the responsible cotton production practices among growers in the United States and Australia, which produce some 17 percent of the world's cotton supply. Targeted to brands, retailers and manufacturers that want to use responsibly and transparently produced cotton, the program touts U.S. and Australian advancements vis-à-vis water and soil conservation, pest management, land use and biodiversity practices, reduced carbon footprint, and traceability.

"Cotton producers in Australia and the U.S. pioneered practices that have resulted in impressive country-wide environmental gains," said Adam Kay, CEO, Cotton Australia. "Both countries approach improvement on a national level. This includes national reporting and regulatory enforcement, but also facilitates the national implementation of best practices and the ability to collect data on a national level."

"Apparel brands, retailers, and manufacturers require large volumes and a reliable supply of responsibly produced fiber, as well as proof of responsible production," said Berrye Worsham, president and CEO, Cotton Incorporated. "Through Cotton LEADS we demonstrate how cotton grown in the United States and Australia can help meet these requirements."

The program is based on five core principles: commitment to social, environmental, economic and regulatory considerations related to world-class cotton production; recognition of the need for ongoing improvement, investment, research and sharing of best practices information among growers and industry; understanding of the importance of collaboration with various programs to foster responsible, sustainable cotton practices; belief in the benefits of cooperation with similar programs to ensure cotton's competitiveness in global fiber markets; and confidence in a cotton identification system that ensures traceability across the supply chain.

November/December 2013

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