Continuous Improvement in the Fields

The 16,000 cotton farms in the United States have been committed to continuous improvement for decades. Over the past 35 years, U.S. cotton production has used 79% less water per bale and 54% less energy, reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 40%, all while reducing land use per bale by 49%. The adoption of practices such as minimal tillage, GPS and sensor-driven precision agriculture, and the growing of winter cover crops have further improved soil health, reducing loss and erosion by 37% per acre and increasing soil carbon levels.

View Membership Benefits

Industry-wide Regulation and Quality Control

Source U.S. cotton with confidence, knowing that the United States has one of the most comprehensive and strict regulatory environments to ensure responsible growing practices as well as cotton transparency and quality-control, making it a safe and more sustainable choice:

The U.S. regulatory framework is extensive and covers environmental regulations on pesticides, labor, wages, working conditions, safety and health. U.S. cotton is also regulated as a food crop, making it safe for people and the environment.

The Permanent Bale Identification system, which assigns a unique barcode to every bale of U.S. grown cotton at the gin, provides farm-to-mill transparency for each bale.

The USDA Classification System, used the world over, underpins the quality and consistency of every order of U.S. cotton that enters the supply chain – long staple length, minimal contaminants and bright, uniform color.

U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol

Participant Grower Metrics

Trust Protocol members will have access to aggregate sustainability metrics based on self-assessment questionnaires of participating growers. In addition, members will receive customized reporting based on national environmental metrics for key sustainability indicators.

Trust Protocol Grower Requirements

The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol is now enrolling growers for the 2022 through 2024 crops with a streamlined 3-year enrollment in the program. The 3-year enrollment will require less time from the growers while simultaneously providing the Brand/Retailer members with the confidence that U.S. growers are committed to providing a reliable supply of sustainably produced fiber.

Between May 1, 2022 and March 31, 2023, a grower must complete the following steps:

  1. Review and sign the privacy statement.
  2. Select your gin, marketer, and crop consultant (if applicable).
  3. Complete your farming profile.
  4. Complete your self-assessment questionnaire for your 2022 farming operation.
  5. Commit to strive for continuous improvements.
  6. Complete your Fieldprint Analysis on fields that constituted at least 10% of your previous year’s cotton fields and harvest data (i.e. data from the 2021 harvest).
  7. You are then a member of the Trust Protocol for 2022 and eligible to market the 2022 crop as Protocol Cotton.

Note: Growers who have completed Trust Protocol enrollment for the 2021 crop will only need to review and update any changes in Steps 2, 3, and 4. All other requirements will have been met.

Between April 1, 2023 and March 31, 2024, a returning grower must review and update Steps 2, 3 and 4 for your 2023 farming operation and complete Step 6 from the 2022 harvest. You are then a member of the Trust Protocol for 2023 and eligible to market the 2023 crop as Protocol Cotton.

Note: New growers are required to complete Steps 1 through 6.

Between April 1, 2024 and March 31, 2025, a returning grower must review and update Steps 2, 3 and 4 for your 2024 farming operation and complete Step 6 from the 2023 harvest. You are then a member of the Trust Protocol for 2024 and eligible to market the 2024 crop as Protocol Cotton.

Note: New growers are required to complete Steps 1 through 6.

Episode 4 of Smarter Conversations

No Sustainable Improvement without Tracking

This is a scene-setting episode talking about the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, how it fits in to the sustainability landscape, why it’s important. Our guests talk about what the Trust Protocol can offer for its members.

More Information About Continuous Improvements

Deepika Mishra

Sustainability Consultant

Deepika Mishra is a passionate, innovative, enthusiastic scientist with demonstrated ability to lead and collaborate worldwide in the development of novel life sciences technologies and techniques to enhance sustainable agriculture to have a true impact that addresses challenges of climate change. She works as a sustainability consultant for the National Cotton Council and Cotton Council International.