With more than 20 million cotton producers in 77 countries, sustainability initiatives that work at the farm level face challenges due to the high cost of providing individual farm assistance and the overhead costs of certification. Although, these initiatives are well intentioned, they represent only small volumes and may result in increased costs throughout the supply chain. The Cotton LEADS™ program offers the global cotton industry a solution to increase the global supply of responsibly-produced cottons by including cottons from countries that demonstrate responsible production practices. Cottons currently in the program are produced in Australia and the United States of America.
The Cotton LEADS™ program includes upland and pima cotton varieties grown in Australia and the United States. Cottons can be conventionally-grown and organically-grown.
- Cotton LEADS™ Cottons Certified 100% Biobased
Cotton LEADS™ cottons are 100% biobased certified by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) BioPreferred® program. Biobased products are intermediate materials and products that are composed in whole, or in significant part, of biological products, renewable agricultural materials or forestry materials.
The goal of the BioPreferred program is to increase the purchase and use of biobased products while spurring economic development, creating new jobs and providing new markets for farm commodities. Additionally, the increased development, purchase, and use of biobased products is intended to reduce reliance on petroleum, increase the use of renewable agricultural resources, and contribute to reducing adverse environmental and health impacts.
The 2014 Farm Bill expanded the initial scope of the USDA BioPreferred program to “promote biobased products that apply an innovative approach to growing, harvesting, sourcing, procuring, processing, manufacturing, or application of biobased products regardless of the date of entry into the marketplace.”
Cotton LEADS™ cotton easily met the BioPreferred program’s new stipulation for innovation, due to the manner in which cotton growers in Australia and the United States approach and operate their businesses. The cotton industries of both countries are well established, well-regulated, transparent and committed to improvement. But it is the growers’ self-investment into research programs and the willingness to embrace new technologies and techniques that continues to yield high volumes of quality cotton; and significant and measurable environmental gains.
More information on the USDA’s BioPreferred Program can be found at: www.biopreferred.gov