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April 12, 2022

VF Foundation joins Ralph Lauren-backed US Regenerative Cotton Fund

The VF Foundation will join the Soil Health Institute’s (SHI) US Regenerative Cotton Fund (USRCF) as a Sustaining Supporter, directly contributing to the Institute’s efforts in Texas, where approximately 60% of US cotton is grown.

By Beth Wright

The VF Foundation is the private grantmaking organisation funded by VF Corporation, one of the world’s largest apparel, footwear, and accessories companies with brands including Vans, The North Face, Timberland, Smartwool, JanSport and Dickies. With its partners, The VF Foundation strives to innovate and problem-solve in collaborative ways to drive transformative, lasting change with the vision of creating a more equitable and sustainable world.

The USRCF, meanwhile, is a farmer-facing, science-based initiative designed to support long-term, sustainable cotton production in the United States, with the goal of eliminating 1m metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) from the atmosphere by 2026.

“This initiative complements our corporate efforts to advance regenerative agricultural practices by taking a farmer-centric approach to scale these practices and measure their impacts when growing cotton, a key material used by VF brands and across the apparel industry,” says Gloria Schoch, executive director, the VF Foundation and director of global impact, VF Corporation.

The VF Foundation’s support of the USRCF directly contributes to the Institute’s efforts in Texas, where approximately 60% of US cotton is grown. Support will help establish farmer-to-farmer mentoring networks, conduct economic analysis of regenerative soil health systems, increase access and opportunity for minority students in scientific leadership positions, and establish Soil Health and Soil Carbon Targets so growers know how healthy their soils can become and how much carbon they can draw down.

In 2019, VF Corporation set ambitious science-based targets and committed to sourcing 100% of its top nine materials from regenerative, responsibly sourced renewable or recycled sources by 2030, as a key pathway to achieve its climate goals.

“We are grateful for The VF Foundation’s past support that served as a catalyst for establishing the USRCF to assist cotton farmers and their advisors across the US with building resilience to drought and mitigating the effects of climate change,” says Dr Cristine Morgan, chief scientific officer and leader of the US Regenerative Cotton Fund. “Widespread adoption of regenerative agricultural practices is hindered by lack of information on the business case, locally relevant education programmes and grower networks, and locally established Soil Health and Carbon Targets. These measures can arm growers with specific knowledge to demonstrate how much their soil health can improve and how that healthier soil can translate into drought resilience, yield stability, profitability, and drive additional benefits.”

The USRCF works to unite the interests of farmers, partners, and financial supporters around soil health as the foundation for regenerative agriculture. The Fund was initiated in 2021 with a founding grant from the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation to the Soil Health Institute.

Participating partners of the Fund include Cotton Incorporated, National Cotton Council, and Field to Market.

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