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Cotton's sustainability journey is as unique as the farmers who grow it …. stewards of the land, environment and people.

Journey of Sustainability

Cotton’s sustainability journey is a series of steps designed to meet the needs of the present customers without compromising the ability of future farming generations to meet their own needs. The U.S. cotton industry continues to take these steps year in and year out. U.S. cotton farmers are families who own their land and would like to preserve it for future generations. These farmers have the highest rate of adoption for Precision Agriculture, and other innovative technologies, in the world. They are continually adopting best management practices. Farmers fund research projects that will help develop new farming practices. They also have expanded their use of resource efficiency tools. It’s no surprise that U.S. cotton farmers produce the most sustainable cotton in the world and will continue to take these steps toward continuous improvement well into the future.
In 2013, the U.S. cotton industry heard a message from the Textile Manufacturers and the Brands and Retailers about their willingness to join in the sustainability journey. To facilitate the first steps, Cotton LEADS was formed as a partnership between the cotton industries of Australia and the United States. Cotton LEADS was the first U.S. program to promote the cotton farmers’ journey of sustainability. This program conveys the farmers’ commitment to sustainability, the recognition of improving farming practices, the understanding of a national sustainable program, the belief in working cooperatively to advance preferred cotton, and the confidence in traceable cotton identification systems. The program’s goal is to connect businesses across the global supply chain with the leading efforts in sustainable cotton production.
By 2017, the U.S. cotton industry learned that some of the textile supply chain would like additional information to tell their sustainability story. In response, the cotton leadership created a Sustainability Task Force to research solutions.. This Task Force represented the seven segments of the U.S. cotton industry from producer to textile manufacturer. Its main purpose is to build on past efforts by focusing on continuous improvement, verifying success and formalizing the process into the US Cotton Trust Protocol, a specific program that oversees and validates these steps.. The Task Force set national goals for key environmental metrics: soil carbon, land use, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, soil loss per acre, water use, and energy use. By 2025, they would like to see these goals of achievement.

Who We Are & What We Do

The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol’s mission is to be the world leader for sustainable cotton production. The Protocol has a vision to meet U.S. cotton’s customers’ sustainability goals by validating that U.S. cotton is the most responsibly-produced cotton in the world while striving for continuous improvement to reduce its environmental footprint.

The mission and objectives of the Protocol are carried out with the help of a multi-stakeholder board of directors. Annual policymaking is initiated through recommendations generated by the participants of the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol and/or the cotton industry.

The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol provides the industry an opportunity to join in its sustainability journey. Whether a Producer, Brand/Retailer, Merchandiser, Textile Manufacturer, or Civil Society, the Protocol has information to help them meet their sustainability goals. As the program grows, aggregate data will be shared with the textile supply chain and its partners who are members of the Protocol. This data will show the world that the U.S. cotton producer strives for continuous improvement in his operation. The overall core value of the Protocol is to maintain its journey of environmental stewardship, caring of people, and personal and corporate integrity from which goals will never be compromised.

The Cotton Supply Chain

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Producers grow the seed cotton and the gin removes the seed leaving just the fiber (lint).

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Merchant/Marketing Cooperative

Merchants market the cotton lint along with cooperatives who also market the cottonseed for their members.

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Textile Manufacturer

Textile manufacturers convert the cotton lint into yarn and fabric.

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Retailers market those products to consumers under various brands.

What Cotton Producers Have to Say

Ken Burton


Nathan Reed

Sledge Taylor

Vardeman Family

Ted Schneider

Step by Step Sign Up for US Cotton Trust Protocol

Our partners

We are proud to work with the following cotton industry members.