February 10, 2023
Jesse Daystar, Ph.D., vice president & chief sustainability officer for Cotton Incorporated joined USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack on a panel discussion for Climate Smart Commodities at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University on Wednesday, February 8.
Dr. Daystar, an advisor to the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol Board, and Cotton Incorporated’s Sustainability Division played an integral role in the development of the U.S. Climate Smart Cotton Program, along with other key collaborators including: U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol; COTTON USA™ – Cotton Council International; the Soil Health Institute; Soil and Water Outcomes Fund; Texas A&M AgriLife; Agricenter International; Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University; and North Carolina A&T State University.
“The cotton industry has really had to step up to the plate because a lot of the apparel brands have made clear reduction goals and science-based targets, so they’re on the hook now for delivering that, and frankly a lot of those emissions come from their supply chain,” said Dr. Daystar. “These brands have to work with the groups supporting the Climate Smart Cotton Program to deliver on their goals, so there is clearly a big ask, with the challenge of creating an on-ramp and support for producers to begin moving towards more climate smart practices. I think the signals are there now, the industry just needs to help them get started, and that is what this program is really going to help do.”
The U.S. Climate Smart Cotton Program is a 5-year, collaborative pilot to provide technical and financial assistance to 1,650 U.S. cotton farmers, including historically underserved cotton producers to advance adoption of climate smart conservation practices on 1.2 million acres, produce 4.2 million bales of climate smart cotton over five years, and demonstrate 1.4 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent reductions and $350 million in economic benefits to farmers. The program leverages Cotton Incorporated research and increases the adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices that improve soil health as well as benefit farmers and the environment.
To watch the conversation, Partnerships for Climate Smart Commodities – YouTube
Pictured from left to right: Dr. Kristie Wendelberger, Climate-Smart Project Director, Rodale Institute; Mark Blevins, Assistant Administrator for Agricultural and Natural Resources, Cooperative Extension, NC A&T State University; Ray McKinnie, Associate Dean for Extension, NC A&T College of Ag and Environmental Sciences; Thomas Vilsack, Secretary, USDA; Dr. Jesse Daystar, Chief Sustainability Officer, Cotton Incorporated; and Carla Norwood, Co-founder, Executive Director, Working Landscapes.