Producer participation in the voluntary U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol sustainability initiative should keep growing with a streamlined enrollment process.
Why is participation important?
To help with a two-prong vision: 1) setting a new standard in sustainable U.S. cotton production via continuous improvement in six key sustainability metrics: land use, soil carbon, water management, soil loss, greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency and 2) making increased transparency a reality by making aggregated and verified environmental metrics from Trust Protocol producer participants available to brands/retailers in the fashion/textile industries. This will help them satisfy their customers’ desire for sustainable products. In fact, almost all the top 100 global brands/retailers have created lists of sustainable raw materials (including cotton) and have committed to sourcing 100% from those lists over the next 5-10 years.
How is industry participation going?
The Trust Protocol enrollment closed for the 2021 season on April 30 with more than 660 producer members enrolled representing more than 1.2 million cotton acres. More than 100 U.S. gins are members and interested in increased roles. Also, there are more than 35 brand and retailer members and more than 650 mill and manufacturer members.
In May, the 2022 enrollment was made quicker and more efficient by allowing producers to commit to enroll their 2022 through 2024 crops. The enrollment steps were streamlined so that to enroll, producers must: 1) review/sign their privacy statement; 2) select their gin, marketer and crop consultant (if applicable); 3) complete their farming profile, 4) complete their self-assessment questionnaire for their 2022 farming operation; 5) commit to strive for continuous improvements; and 6) complete their “Fieldprint Analysis” on fields that constituted at least 10% of their previous year’s cotton fields and harvest data (i.e. from 2021 harvest). Completing these steps makes them a Trust Protocol member for 2022 and eligible to market their 2022 crop as Trust Protocol cotton. Producers who have completed enrollment for the 2021 crop only need to update steps 2, 3 and 4. Send questions to the Grower Help Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Along with the three-year enrollment feature, producers now can authorize account access for their crop consultant who can enter information on their behalf at www.TrustUSCotton.org. Also, if producers utilize the John Deere Operations Center, they can pre-populate up to 40% of the data needed to complete their “Fieldprint Analysis” through the platform. Additional enrollment enhancements are being developed.
Any other participation benefits?
A significant benefit is that enrolled producers who complete their data entry in the Trust Protocol will be eligible for a potential redistribution of program revenue. Another potential benefit may come from producer participation in USDA’s new Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program. The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol has submitted a proposal for that program, whereby USDA could finance partnerships to support the production/marketing of climate-smart commodities via a set of pilot projects lasting one to five years. Pilots will provide technical and financial assistance to producers who: 1) implement climate-smart practices on a voluntary basis on working lands; 2) pilot innovative and cost-effective methods for quantification, monitoring, reporting and verification of greenhouse gas benefits; and 3) market the resulting climate-smart commodities.