New, Quantifiable Goals Set For Sustainable U.S. Cotton

WASHINGTON — June 13, 2018 — The COTTON USA Sustainability Task Force, established by the U.S. cotton industry in 2017, recently established national goals for continual improvements in key areas of environmental stewardship, farm productivity and resource efficiency including land, water, air, input and energy use by 2025.

These goals were set after the Task Force thoroughly reviewed Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture’s most recent National Indicators Report data illustrating the industry’s past achievements in reducing its environmental footprint.

“Sustainability is no longer just about checking the box on responsible practices, it’s about accountability and quantifying success — that’s what consumers, brands, retailers and U.S. cotton farmers really care about,” said Cotton Council International President Ted Schneider, a Lake Providence, La., cotton producer. “As the world’s largest cotton exporting country and the third largest producer, our industry’s sustainability efforts have the potential to reverberate throughout the global textile supply chain.”

The six specific goals the COTTON USA Sustainability Task Force has set to achieve by 2025 are:

  1. Reducing the amount of land needed to produce a pound of cotton fiber by 13 percent;
  2. Reducing soil loss by 50 percent, in balance with new soil formation;
  3. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 39 percent;
  4. Reducing energy to produce seed cotton and ginned lint by 15 percent;
  5. Increasing water use efficiency (more fiber per gallon) by 18 percent; and
  6. Increasing soil carbon in fields by 30 percent.

The United States cotton industry is the first to establish national, quantifiable goals for sustainability. Additionally, its farmers operate under voluminous, stringent and enforceable regulations.

Membership in the Sustainability Task Force includes representatives from all the U.S. cotton industry’s seven raw cotton segments: cotton producers, ginners, merchants, co-ops, warehousers, cottonseed processors and U.S. textile mills. This holistic approach helps to ensure a coordinated and effective response to environmental issues.

Task Force member Ronnie Lee, a Georgia cotton producer and past National Cotton Council chairman, said, “Our industry wants to be the supplier of choice for those who are committed to only buying cotton that is produced with sustainable and responsible environmental, safety and labor practices.”

The U.S. cotton industry has made great gains in sustainability over the past 35 years and has reported significant declines in land use, soil loss, improvements in water efficiency, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. To establish and measure these goals, U.S. cotton uses science-based metrics and benchmarks developed by Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture to assess environmental impacts and identify opportunities for improvement. Field to Market works across the entire agricultural supply chain to define, measure and advance the sustainability of U.S. crop production.

Posted June 13, 2018

Source: Cotton Council International (CCI)