By Sinclaire Dobelbower
Market trends and research are showing consumers around the world are increasingly concerned that the food and fiber products they consume are responsibly produced by farmers that care about people and the environment.
In August 2015, PCCA officially became a partner with Cotton LEADS™, a program committed to promoting responsible cotton production centered on core principles that are consistent with sustainability and traceability in the supply chain.
Cotton Australia and The Cotton Foundation created the Cotton LEADS™ program in 2013 which is supported by Australia Cotton Shippers Association, National Cotton Council of America, Cotton USA, and Cotton Incorporated.
The program offers the global cotton industry a solution to increase the global supply of responsibly produced cotton. Cotton produced in Australia and the United States is automatically recognized as having achieved the core principles of the Cotton LEADS™ commitment. This cotton includes varieties of upland and pima cotton which can be conventionally or organically grown.
“Farmers are the original conservationists. Most raise their families on their farm so they take extra measures to care for the land and keep it safe,” said Kevin Brinkley, President and CEO of PCCA. “It’s no surprise to us that consumers are expressing a desire for cotton produced by growers that farm in the most responsible way possible. The Cotton LEADS™ program helps ensure that manufacturers know the story of efforts our farmers go to protect their families and their land.”
The cotton produced in the program is grown based on a set of five core principles that encompass the practices involved with sustainable production.
Principle 1 – Commitment
To the social, environmental, economic and regulatory factors required to produce world-class cotton.
Principle 2 – Recognition
That sustainable and responsible cotton production requires continual improvement, investment, research and sharing of the best practices information among growers and industry.
Principle 3 – Understanding
That leading change in responsible and sustainable cotton practices will have the most positive impact when implemented in collaboration among farm, regional, national and international programs.
Principle 4 – Belief
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 programs.
Principle 5 – Confidence
In cotton identification systems that ensure traceability from farm to manufacturer.
Currently, there are more than 350 retailers, brands, and manufacturers partnered with the Cotton LEADS™ program. They include Target, Kohls, Hanes, Fruit of the Loom, and Brooks Brothers. These partners have the benefit of knowing the cotton they are sourcing is responsibly produced, and they have confidence there is transparency and traceability in the supply chain.
This program offers a solution to increasing global supply of cottons from countries that demonstrate responsible production practices.
“Chemical fibers like polyester and rayon have no credibility on these issues. We’re optimistic that conscientious consumers will recognize that responsibly produced cotton is consistent with their values. Ultimately, that should help us win back market share,” Brinkley said.
Just as the mission statement describes, PCCA is committed to adding significant value to the cotton marketed for its members by being the supplier of choice to business partners in terms of quality, service and value. By being a partner of the Cotton LEADS™ program, PCCA is strengthening this commitment.