Cotton Australia and Cotton Incorporated today announced a joint program to raise awareness of the responsible growing practices among cotton producers in Australia and the United States. Called Cotton LEADS™, the program is aimed at textile brands, retailers and manufacturers committed to sourcing cotton that is grown in a responsible and transparent manner. Validating the Cotton LEADS program are the national-level oversight, regulatory enforcement, and transparency of practices common to both countries. Combined, Australia and the United States account for roughly 17% of global cotton production. More information can be found at www.cottonleads.org
“Cotton LEADS is designed to assist businesses along the cotton supply chain with their sustainability goals,” says Berrye Worsham, president and CEO of Cotton Incorporated. “Apparel brands, retailers, and manufacturers require large volumes and a reliable supply of responsibly-produced fiber, as well as proof of responsible production. Through Cotton LEADS we demonstrate how cotton grown in the United States and Australia can help meet these requirements,” adds Worsham.
“Cotton producers in Australia and the U.S. pioneered practices that have resulted in impressive, country-wide environmental gains,” explains Adam Kay, CEO of Cotton Australia. “Both countries approach improvement on a national level. This includes national reporting and regulatory enforcement, but also facilitates the national implementation of best practices and the ability to collect data on a national level,” adds Kay.
The national focus of Cotton LEADS differs from the range of farm-by-farm certification programs that have emerged in recent years, and which the International Cotton Advisory Committee has termed “identity cottons,” but the goals are parallel. “Cotton LEADS members are committed to providing the supply chain with greater volumes of responsibly-grown cotton, to ongoing improvement, and to the transparency of processes and metrics.”
The Cotton LEADS™ program is founded on five core principles:
to the social, environmental, economic, and regulatory factors to produce world-class cotton.
that sustainable and responsible cotton production requires continual improvement, investment, research, and sharing of best practices information among growers and industry.
that leading change in a responsible and sustainable cotton practices will have the most positive impact when implemented in collaboration with farm, regional, national and international programs.
in the benefit of working cooperatively with similar programs that seek to advance responsible and sustainable cotton production in an effort to keep global cotton competitive in world fiber markets.
in a cotton identification system that ensures traceability from farm to manufacturer.
The National Cotton Council of America and its export promotion program Cotton Council International join Cotton Australia and Cotton Incorporated as founding members. Kevin Latner, Executive Director of Cotton Council International states, “Users of Australian and U.S. cotton can take confidence in these core principles, which are built upon a track record of responsible production practices and a commitment to continuing improvement.”
Cotton LEADS currently has two member nations, Australia and the United States. A committee comprised of three members from each member nation, and two members from partnering industry organizations, will guide activities and the use of program funds.
About Cotton Incorporated
Cotton Incorporated, funded by U.S. cotton producers and importers of cotton and cotton textile products, conducts worldwide research and promotion activities to increase the demand for and profitability of cotton.
About Cotton Australia
Cotton Australia is the peak representative body for the Australian cotton growing industry. Led by a Board of cotton growers and ginners, the organisation provides a united voice for cotton growers across research, stewardship, natural resource management and cotton production issues.