U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol Names Inaugural Board of Directors

By December 10, 2019 December 19th, 2019 News Posts

The inaugural Board of Directors has been named for the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol (Trust Protocol). This new standard has been developed to help the U.S. cotton production sector further reduce its footprint by enabling producers to assess their performance against specific sustainability goals.

U.S. Cotton Trust ProtocolThrough robust data inputs, the Trust Protocol will add confidence throughout the supply chain – positioning U.S. cotton as the responsible choice for mills and retailers. The appointees include delegates from across the entire supply chain, leading industry, scientific and academic experts as well as representatives from world-renowned environmental organizations.

Supply Chain, Industry, Environmental Groups Represented

Directors representing the raw cotton industry include:

  • Producers – Matt Coley (Georgia); Ted Schneider (Louisiana); Shawn Holladay (Texas); and Aaron Barcellos (California);
  • Ginner – David Blakemore (Missouri);
  • Marketing Cooperative – Hank Reichle (Mississippi);
  • Merchant – Steve Dyer (Tennessee);
  • Cottonseed – Fred Serven (Tennessee);
  • Manufacturer – Jim Martin (North Carolina);
  • Brands/Retailers are Liza Schillo, Levi Strauss & Co., and Joe Little, Tesco;
  • Suzy Friedman, Environmental Defence Fund; Melissa Ho, the World Wildlife Fund; Marty Matlock, the University of Arkansas; and Garry Bell, formerly with Gildan.

Trust Protocol advisors include: Jesse Daystar, Cotton Incorporated; Andy Jordan, Jordan Consulting; Marc Lewkowitz, Supima; Mark Pryor, The Seam; and Mike Quinn, Frontier Spinning Mills.

After initiation of a pilot earlier this year, full implementation is scheduled for 2020 for the Trust Protocol, which is aimed at helping U.S. cotton achieve by 2025 these national sustainability goals:

  • 13% Increase in productivity, i.e. reduced land use per pound of fiber;
  • 18% Increase in irrigation efficiency;
  • 39% Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions;
  • 15% Reduction in energy expenditures;
  • 50% Reduction in soil loss; and
  • 30% Increase in soil carbon.

More about the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol

What is the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol?

The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol is a cotton production assessment system established by U.S. cotton producers and industry organizations to provide a mechanism by which U.S. cotton producers can assess and verify their current production practices and measure their progress toward long-term sustainability goals. The Trust Protocol will be managed and implemented by a single member LLC governed by producers, brands/retailers, conservation and wildlife civil societies, ginners, merchants, cooperatives, textile manufacturers, cottonseed crushers/handlers, and cotton warehouses.

Why did the U.S. cotton industry create the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol?

The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol is being created to enable U.S. cotton producers and industry organizations to demonstrate their commitment to more sustainable cotton production and their progress toward long-term environmental improvement, thereby meeting the sustainability goals of downstream users of U.S. cotton.

The industry recognized that for U.S. cotton to be the supplier of choice for many global brands and retailers, as well as meet the needs of the consumers, it needed to verify existing production systems and practices and establish long-term environmental goals. This program is designed to meet those needs, while showcasing U.S. cotton’s story of continuous improvement. It also charts a path to meet the industry’s 2025 sustainability goals.

What are the primary components of the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol?

U.S. cotton producers will enroll their farm operation in the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol by –

  1. Completing a series of questions about their current farming operation and methods (self-assessment); and
  2. Providing field-level data concerning production practices for a specific percentage of their farming operation (Data Tool).

The Protocol will utilize a second-party and third-party independent verification system to validate the Producer’s self-assessment responses and the use of a Data Tool for field-level data. Cotton produced on operations enrolled in the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol will be deemed to be “Protocol Cotton.”  Data provided through the self-assessment and Data Tool will be aggregated and utilized to measure the industry’s progress toward its long-term sustainability goals.

What is U.S. Cotton’s 2025 Sustainability Goals?

U.S. cotton producers and industry organizations have established several environmental targets intended to be achieved over the next 10 years:

  • Increase soil carbon by 30%
  • Increase land use efficiency by 13%
  • Decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 39%
  • Decrease soil loss per acre by 50%
  • Decrease water use by 18%
  • Decrease energy use by 15%

What definition of “sustainability” has been adopted by the Trust Protocol?

The Trust Protocol has adopted the United Nations’ definition of sustainability, as follows:

To meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Does participation in the program mean that one producer is more sustainable than another?

No. The goal is for the entire U.S. cotton production system to be more sustainable tomorrow than it is today. Enrollment allows the Trust Protocol to evaluate existing producer practices and ensure the U.S. industry moves toward more sustainable practices over time. Continuous improvement is the journey as sustainability is a process that will change as new technology and information become available.

Is Sustainability a short-term initiative?

Brands, retailers and users of cotton are establishing sustainability goals that are both short-term and long-term. There are 38 major Brands/Retailers who have pledged to achieve 100% sustainable cotton by 2025 or sooner. This number will grow. Consumers are demanding more information about the products they buy. Wall Street makes investment decisions based on environmental and social governance audits from companies, and their supply chains must comply or be left behind. It is essential that U.S. cotton provide high-quality, trusted data to meet the supply chain’s needs.

Aggregated data from the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol will provide downstream users of cotton with metrics for meeting their sustainable development goals. The Data Tools utilized in the Trust Protocol will give producers the information that can increase their resource efficiency, lower their cost of production, support their economic sustainability and ensure downstream customers that U.S. cotton is sustainably produced.

Also see: https://trustuscotton.org