What is the Cotton LEADS™ program?
Cotton LEADS™ is a joint program initiated by the Australian and U.S. cotton industries to promote awareness among retailers, brands, and manufacturers of the responsible cotton production practices undertaken in these countries. The essence of the program is responsible cotton production.
Why are the United States and Australia working together?
Cotton producers and industry organizations in the Australia and the United States have come together in the Cotton LEADS™ program to elevate awareness of the positive actions that are underway for responsible cotton production. As retailers and textile brands throughout the world seek responsibility, transparency, and confidence in their supply chain partners and materials suppliers, we want make sure that these retailers and brands are aware of the responsible production efforts undertaken by Cotton LEADS™ member countries.

Cotton producers and industry organizations in Australia and the United States have, each in their own way, pioneered the investments, practices, and national infrastructures necessary to put cotton production practices on paths to continual improvement. By combining efforts in the Cotton LEADS™ program, the member countries can elevate the level of awareness of responsible cotton production efforts. Further, the Cotton LEADS™ member countries and their partners in the program can convene and catalyze dialogue and action steps to ensure that responsible production practices are broadly disseminated.

Why is Cotton LEADS™ cotton a great sourcing option for retailers, brands, and manufacturers?
Retailers and brands that want confidence and integrity in their supply chain and want to deliver high quality cotton products to their customers should be partners in the Cotton LEADS™ program. Member countries in the Cotton LEADS™ program are at the forefront of responsible cotton production and have made a commitment to continual improvement.  In particular, the benefits for retailers or brands include:

  • Transparency and traceability in the supply chain
  • No added costs or price distortions in their supply chain
  • An opportunity to become involved as a Cotton LEADS™ partner in supporting leading-edge efforts to advance responsible cotton production practices
  • An ample supply of cotton to meet quality and volume requirements for their manufacturing needs

Yarn and apparel manufacturers that support responsible supply chains should support the Cotton LEADS™ program. These companies want reliable, responsible suppliers for their primary raw material—cotton—and they want to meet their downstream customers’ needs for confidence, accountability, transparency, and compliance.  Additionally, yarn and apparel manufacturers work on very small margins and need options for responsible sourcing that do not add to their costs.

Will the Cotton LEADS™ program affect the price of cotton in the supply chain or the value of cotton received by farmers?
The program was designed to have minimal interference in the market and not to impose additional costs on farmers, supply chain companies or retailers and brands. Longer term, by promoting responsible cotton production practices, this will help maintain or even increase the world demand for cotton.
How will retailers, brands and manufacturers know that they are getting Cotton LEADS™ cotton in their supply chain?
Australia and the United States each have systems in place to uniquely identify cotton bales produced in their countries. These systems are reliable, proven, transparent, and add no cost to downstream customers of cotton. Australian and U.S. cotton bales are easily identifiable by unique bale tags and identification numbers.
What cottons are included in Cotton LEADS™ supply?
Cotton LEADS™ cotton includes upland and pima cotton varieties grown in Australia and the United States. Cottons can be conventionally-grown and organically-grown.