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Cotton Incorporated Celebrates 50 Years

stacey gorman

Stacey Gorman,
Memphis Tennessee

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Cotton Incorporated, the research and marketing company funded by U.S. cotton producers and importers. It is the sole-source contractor of The Cotton Board and was created in 1970. A group of visionary cotton producers decided to pool their resources to invest in cotton research and promotion to help combat a major emerging issue at that time — loss of market share to man-made fibers.

In the time leading up to the creation of Cotton Incorporated, synthetic fiber manufacturing companies were introducing relatively new fibers like polyester to the world. These companies had deep pockets and were spending significant resources in both product research and consumer marketing.

Realizing this, U.S. Upland cotton producers conceived a self-help agricultural promotion program to collectively fight to regain the market share that had been lost to synthetic fibers. Their efforts led to the enactment of a federal statute, the Cotton Research and Promotion Act of 1966.

In a referendum, producers voted to institute a per-bale assessment system to fund the program and established built-in safeguards to protect their investment. The most significant amendment to the act occurred in 1990 and expanded the Program to include assessment collections on the cotton content of imported apparel and other products.

The Cotton Board Is Born

The Cotton Research and Promotion Act of 1966 established The Cotton Board to administer and oversee the Cotton Research snd Promotion Program. To fund it, The Cotton Board collects a per-bale assessment on all Upland cotton harvested and ginned in the United States. Importers are also assessed on the cotton content of all Upland cotton products brought into the country.

The Cotton Board receives oversight from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is also charged with keeping program stakeholders informed of the work being done on their behalf via their investment.

cotton board HQ

Cotton Incorporated’s World Headquarters and Research Center is located in Cary, North Carolina.

In addition, the Act directed The Cotton Board to contract with a separate organization to conduct the actual research and promotion activities. The original contracting organization was called the Cotton Producer’s Institute, and it operated as a subsidiary of the National Cotton Council.

Cotton Incorporated Debuts

However, in 1970, the Cotton Producer’s Institute became a separate, non-profit entity named Cotton Incorporated. Cotton Incorporated’s World Headquarters and Research Center is located in Cary, North Carolina, and its Consumer Marketing Headquarters is located in New York City. Supporting offices are located around the globe in Mexico City, Osaka, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

During the past 50 years, Cotton Incorporated has worked relentlessly to educate consumers about the benefits of cotton. It also researches and improves cotton production practices to increase cotton producer profitability.

From the creation of the first cotton module-builder and the introduction of the Seal of Cotton trademark in the 1970s to the work being done to share cotton’s sustainability story today, Cotton Incorporated has led the way forward for the cotton industry.

History In The Spotlight

Throughout 2020, The Cotton Board and Cotton Incorporated will be sharing information about the history of Cotton Incorporated. Many of the significant advancements and achievements made by Cotton Incorporated during its first 50 years will be highlighted.

As we look forward to the next 50 years of cotton research and promotion, it is important to reflect on the vast array of accomplishments generated so far and draw inspiration from Cotton Incorporated’s robust history. The ultimate goal is to ensure U.S. cotton’s viability for years to come.

Gorman is The Cotton Board’s director of communications. Contact her at sgorman@cottonboard.org.