The United States may be the only country in the world with this kind of specific, measurable, quantified goals

The United States may be the only country in the world with this kind of specific, measurable, quantified goals

As part of its bid to advance the sustainability of US cotton production, the National Cotton Council has set out a series of goals to further reduce its environmental footprint.

"Our industry wants to be the supplier of choice for those who are committed to only buying cotton that is produced with sustainable and responsible environmental, safety and labour practices," explains National Cotton Council chairman Ronnie Lee, a Georgia cotton producer. "That is the objective that was set by the Council's Cotton USA Sustainability task force."

The task force was set up earlier this year and aims to collaborate with US cotton industry associations on developing industry-wide goals for measurable continual improvements in environmental stewardship, farm productivity, and resource efficiency such as land, water, air, input, and energy use.

Among the specific goals now being pursued by 2025 are plans to reduce by 13% the amount of land needed to produce a pound of cotton fibre; reducing soil loss by 50%, in balance with new soil formation; increasing water use efficiency (more fibre per gallon) by 18%; and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 39%.

Other targets include increasing soil carbon in fields by 30%, and reducing energy to produce seed cotton and ginned lint by 15%.

"US cotton growers have achieved significant environmental gains over the past three decades," says task force chairman Ted Schneider, a Louisiana cotton producer. "The goals are meant to continue that trend and to reinvigorate efforts through the setting of realistic targeted reductions."

According to Dahlen Hancock, chairman of Cotton Incorporated, whose scientists have worked to develop and refine US cotton's sustainability initiative, the US may be the only country in the world to have set out such specific, measurable, quantified goals.

Hancock explains the industry is using science-based metrics and benchmarks developed by 'Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture' to assess environmental impacts and identify opportunities for improvement.

Field to Market works across the entire agricultural supply chain to define, measure and advance the sustainability of US crop production – and was last month joined by jeanswear brand Wrangler as its first apparel member.

Wrangler joins efforts to boost sustainable US cotton

The Memphis-based National Cotton Council of America works to ensure the US cotton industry's seven segments are able to compete effectively and profitably in the raw cotton, oilseed and US-manufactured product markets at home and abroad.