Data Driven Impact

The 2023 U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol Annual Report reveals that 23% of all planted U.S. Cotton acres are now enrolled in the program.

What is the Trust Protocol’s overall goal?

gary adams, ncc
Gary Adams, NCC

The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol was launched in 2020 and is the voluntary sustainability program for U.S. cotton growers, and traceability platform for all U.S. cotton. It is the only system that provides quantifiable/verifiable goals and measurement to sustainable U.S. cotton production while driving continuous improvement in six key sustainability metrics: land use, soil carbon, water management, soil loss, greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency.

How about recent achievements?

The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol has tripled its grower membership in just three years. The third Trust Protocol Annual Report at revealed these specifics:

1) 1.7m acres, representing almost a quarter (23%) of the entire cotton harvested area of the United States, were enrolled in the Trust Protocol;

2) 975 growers enrolled with all 17 cotton-growing states represented;

3) Of the 975 growers, 48% chose to apply for the Climate Smart Cotton Program, reflecting a commitment to sustainable practices.

The Trust Protocol has welcomed more than 40 companies and their brands, including some of the largest names in fashion, such as Ralph Lauren and Gap Inc., as well as new members, such as Macy’s and Kiabi. Additionally, the program has successfully enrolled more than 2,000 mills and manufacturers from 40 different global regions and countries. In 2022-23, the Trust Protocol increased mill and manufacturer membership by over 144% from the year prior and expanded to 12 new countries.

Any other success?

A significant milestone came in September 2022 when the Trust Protocol was named the lead recipient of the U.S. Climate Smart Cotton Program, receiving funding and recognition as part of the USDA’s Partnership for Climate Smart Commodities pilot projects.

The Climate Smart Cotton Program is a five-year collaborative initiative that brings together partners from across the supply chain and provides additional benefits for growers, including technical and financial support. Among the goals of the program is to produce 4.2m bales of Climate Smart Cotton™, an ambition we expect will boost the growth of the Trust Protocol. I look forward to giving an update on progress next year following the first year of enrollment.

The Trust Protocol has achieved continued progress across all six key sustainability metrics. It is important to note the increase in the enrollment of growers who actively participate in the program, even amidst a challenging growing environment. This achievement can be attributed to our strategic approach of recruiting new members from across the full cotton supply chain — from growers to mills and manufacturers to brands and retailers.

Gary Adams is president/CEO of the National Cotton Council of America.

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