This five-year initiative is one of USDA’s Partnership for Climate-Smart Commodities pilot projects. The Trust Protocol is leading the program which will measure and improve the carbon footprint of the U.S. cotton industry. Its $90 million grant is an historic investment that will be used to assist participating producers who will receive technical and financial support as well as other benefits that can enhance their operations, profitability, and environmental stewardship.
Along with the technical and financial assistance, the Climate Smart Cotton Program specifically aims to: 1) advance adoption of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) practices such as no-till, cover crops, and nutrient management on 1.2 million U.S. cotton acres; 2) produce 4.2 million bales of Climate Smart Cotton™ over five years; 3) enroll 1,650 U.S. cotton producers, including 330 producers from historically underserved communities; and 4) reduce CO2e emissions by 1.14 million metric tons. The program’s partners include Cotton Council International, Cotton Incorporated, the Soil Health Institute, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Agricenter International, Alabama A&M University and North Carolina A&T State University.
To be eligible, producers must be enrolled in the Trust Protocol by September 1, 2023. All data entered in the voluntary Trust Protocol is secure and confidential, only being used in aggregate form. Crop consultants may be authorized to enter information on the producer’s behalf. September 1 also is the deadline for Trust Protocol producers to apply for the Climate Smart Cotton Program. Applications will be approved on a first-come, first-served basis and applicants must agree to upload their 2023 bales by March 1, 2024. Trust Protocol enrollment can be completed at https://members.trustuscotton.org/register/step/role and Climate Smart Cotton Program application at https://trustuscotton.org/u-s-cotton-growers-can-now-apply-for-the-climate-smart-cotton-program/. A step-by-step video on how to apply is at www.youtube.com/watch?v=htWaXmE0gHY. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or for assistance.
U.S. cotton has long focused on continuous improvement. The industry’s Trust Protocol launch in 2020 allowed greater transparency by affirming and measuring its sustainability outcomes. These are reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, soil loss and water/energy use, while increasing land efficiency and soil carbon.
Now, the Climate Smart Cotton Program is taking our industry to the next step by 1) utilizing the Trust Protocol’s foundational reputation and our program partners’ expertise so producers can learn, grow and explore new opportunities for reducing climate impacts and 2) providing implementation resources. Among economic benefits participating producers will realize are a reduction in input costs, potential yield improvements, and added revenue from carbon insets. These benefits — all generated by CSA practices — will incentivize long-term commitment to management change and accelerate growth in adoption beyond this five-year pilot.