Progress continues on “Vision of U.S. Cotton’s 21st Century,” a comprehensive data collection and analysis effort aimed at strengthening U.S. cotton’s competitiveness in the world marketplace.
What are Vision 21’s goals?
A Cotton Foundation project jointly managed by the National Cotton Council (NCC), Cotton Council International (CCI) and Cotton Incorporated, Vision 21 is: 1) analyzing cotton handling/transportation logistics with a focus on improving flow/shipping; 2) conducting life-cycle studies to strengthen U.S. cotton’s sustainability message and 3) assessing cotton textiles’ fastest growing consumer markets. The effort is underwritten by a grant from Monsanto with additional funding from John Deere.
How is the project progressing?
The cotton flow component is complete. This study was conducted by Wilbur Smith Associates (WSA) consulting firm in association with Texas A&M University’s Agricultural Economics Department and with oversight by the NCC’s Vision 21 Cotton Flow Study Committee. WSA presented 32 recommendations covering data systems, warehousing, merchandising, shipping and least-cost modeling. Most of the recommendations address cotton’s unique data, communication and handling needs that would streamline the supply chain. Other recommendations focused on issues ranging from the impact of trade rules to alternative bale grouping strategies. The NCC’s Cotton Flow Study Committee assigned high priority to nine of the recommendations and approved seven policy statements for consideration in the NCC policy development process.
This “sustainability” study has led to four goals: 1) build a current, transparent and well-documented life cycle inventory (LCI) for cotton products that can be easily integrated into both proprietary and open source Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) software tools; 2) identify current available LCI data for cotton, virgin and recycled polyester, and rayon and provide a quality assessment of the available data; 3) provide a life cycle analysis of textile products constructed from cotton and those fibers identified in the second goal; and 4) deliver a user-friendly software tool that can be used for additional scenario analysis and product comparisons. Data is being collected in the categories of: cotton growth and cultivation, fabric manufacture, packaging, distribution, use and end-of-life.
As part of the cotton textiles study, a consulting firm was contracted for the collection of data regarding Chinese urban and rural consumer preferences and purchase patterns for cotton textile products through 2011. Cotton Incorporated prepared an analysis of the initial survey’s results, including the identification of key demographic trends and characteristics regarding fiber preferences. A consulting firm also was contracted for collection of India’s primary market trends data. The NCC’s Economic Services began an analysis of India’s textile demand based on these primary market data and the results of an earlier CCI-conducted consumer survey.
What are the next steps?
Following the project’s completion, the industry’s stakeholders will develop new NCC policies and program initiatives that also will help guide CCI’s efforts in building new markets and direct Cotton Foundation resources to achieve industry profitability and efficiency. The project’s funding partners will be participants in the stakeholder discussions.
Mark Lange is president and chief executive officer for the National Cotton Council of America. He and other NCC leaders contribute columns on this Cotton Farming page.
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