The Cotton Research and Promotion Program (the Program) will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2016. The Program is carried out by cotton farmers and cotton importers who work together to increase the demand for and profitability of cotton. Its purpose is to educate consumers about cotton and to research, innovate, and promote cotton and cotton products.
By the mid-1960s, cotton had lost many of its traditional markets to new man-made synthetic fibers. Realizing this, U.S. Upland cotton producers conceived a self-help agriculture promotion program to collectively fight to regain market share that had been lost to synthetic fibers. Their efforts led to the enactment of 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 collections on the cotton content of imported apparel and other products.
The Cotton Research and Promotion Act of 1966 established The Cotton Board to administer and oversee the Cotton Research and Promotion Program. The Cotton Board collects the assessment that funds the program from the buyers of U.S. Upland cotton and from importers of cotton products. The Cotton Board also serves as industry liaison with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and works to inform producers and importers of Program activities.
The Act also 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. 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 in Cary, N.C., and its Consumer Marketing Headquarters is in New York, N.Y. Supporting offices are located around the globe in Mexico City, Osaka, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
For 50 years, the Program, through Cotton Incorporated, has carried out award-winning national advertising campaigns, enhanced cotton fabrics through countless innovations, improved cotton production and harvesting technologies, and created favorable consumer demand for cotton. The most recently executed USDA-required evaluation of the Program reflected very well on its effectiveness. Because of the Program:
- Annual world consumer demand for cotton was more than 2 million bales higher per year.
- U.S. mill consumption of cotton was 1.2 million bales higher than it would have been without the Program.
- U.S. cotton production averaged 500 thousand bales higher.
- Importer profits averaged $900 million higher.
- The annual average U.S. farm price for cotton was 5.4 cents per pound higher.
As we enter cotton’s next 50 years and cotton is again facing significant competitive challenges, the Program’s leaders have a renewed commitment to the hard work and dedication required to make cotton the preferred fiber for the world.
The Cotton Board, which administers CI’s Research and Promotion Program, contributed information for this article.