by Jayci Bishop
The Trust Protocol is a program that offers brands and retailers the critical assurances needed to source more sustainably grown cotton by providing data on environmental metrics of U.S. cotton production and a fully transparent supply chain. The program’s mission is to bring quantifiable and verifiable goals and measurement to the key sustainability metrics of U.S. cotton production with a vision where transparency is a reality and continuous improvement to improve our environmental footprint is the central goal. All growers who voluntarily sign up for the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol and complete all requirements for enrollment have the potential to be randomly selected for verification. What does this mean for you? Simply put, it means someone could visit with you about your farming operation to ensure that your answers in the Trust Protocol agree with your actual production practices.
2nd Party Verification
- Conducted by the producer’s marketer via online meeting
- Answer questions related to operation and production practices completed in the enrollment process
3rd Party Verification
- On-site verification conducted by Control Union verifiers with a PCCA representative present
- PCCA facilitates scheduling for convenience
- Takes about one to three hours from arrival to completion
- Simply verifying that the self-assessment and Fieldprint Analysis answers are what you actually do on your farm
- Can receive recommendations for continuous improvement of your operation
How does PCCA help during the process?
- PCCA is here to help and support through the entire process from sign up to verification
- PCCA can help gather materials and be present during the verification to offer support
While these verifications can seem intimidating, they are a crucial part of the process. They allow the U.S. cotton industry to tell its story to the world. PCCA grower-owner, Ray Mason, shared his experiences with his third-party verification.
What was the verification process like?
“The verification was easy, especially if you have good records. I spent probably an hour in the office gathering stuff up to figure all this out. The John Deere Operations Center makes it even easier.”
How would you encourage other growers to participate?
“They just need to sit down and look it over, and talk to some of us that have done it. I will gladly help anybody. It is not a big deal. If you’re going to sell cotton, you better get on board.”
Why is it important to be involved in the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol?
“It’s tooting our horn. It is showing the rest of the world that we are sustainable and that we are making an effort to get even better. A lot of these companies are saying they aren’t going to use anything but sustainable products. That puts us in a good position over polyester. We can very easily say we are sustainable.”
How does being involved in the program benefit your operation?
“It makes us wrap our mind around what we are doing. A lot of stuff we have been doing forever, and a lot of stuff we are having to go through and change the way we are doing things to manage our water and soil. This cover crop thing has changed the whole face of our farms. Since we have started the cover crops, we have seen nutrient increases. Residual nutrients are staying, and we aren’t leaching anything out. We aren’t washing anything off. If we do happen to get some spring rains, there’s no issue with planting. In this country, we have to have a planting rain anyway. If you get just enough, these cover crops will move water further into the ground instead of washing off and going down the county road somewhere.”
Why is sustainability important?
“We have been here 100 years; we would like to do it another 100. Sustainability is the only way we can do that.”