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Unraveling the Common Thread

From Cotton Grower Magazine – January 2015

 

In 2009, I traveled to Liverpool, England on assignment for Cotton International magazine to cover the International Cotton Association’s annual meeting. It was, literally and figuratively, a long way from the cotton fields outside of Inverness, MS, where I was first introduced to the crop.

I was new to the downstream sectors of the cotton market, and I spent much of my time that week in Liverpool struggling to grasp the concepts being discussed. I made the most of it. I explored the city and bought my mom some Beatles memorabilia, but generally felt like an outsider at the conference.

What was contract sanctity? How did merchants like Plexus Cotton operate? How, I wondered, did American cotton farmers, who I felt I represented, fit into all of this?

Five years later, I am still grappling with that last question, although I’ve got a more firm grasp on it these days. The main takeaway I had from my time in Liverpool is that the world of cotton is much deeper and much broader than what I had seen in my youth in Mississippi. Now, Cotton Grower is prepared to launch an initiative that showcases that broader view – a view from 10,000 feet up – of the cotton industry.

The Common Thread initiative will kick off in earnest in 2015 as Cotton Grower explores the front lines of the battle to keep American cotton sustainable and viable for decades to come. Together, we will examine topics like market competition and genetic technology from new angles – angles designed to keep the cotton industry profitable and strong for future generations of America’s farmers.

For good reason, cotton producers are most often focused on the challenges that lay directly in front of them. In the business of producing cotton, there are agricultural and economic obstacles to overcome with each new day and each new season. The stated goal of the Common Thread initiative is to rise above the daily challenges and focus on the larger picture – to take a forward-thinking approach to the long term health of our industry.

You’ll be able to join in this project through a variety of touch points. The plan is to feature Common Thread efforts in the pages of Cotton Grower magazine as well as www.cottongrower.com – our newly renamed online home. We’ll be creating a Common Thread advisory council to assist in the concept, and hoping to connect with you, our audience, through a series of in-person events.

It will be an exciting initiative for me, personally, and for anyone who has a genuine desire to see the cotton industry succeed in America. We hope to make you feel connected to the entire scope and potential of this simple natural fiber that so many of you produce on your own land. Hopefully you’ll feel a connection, both to cotton professionals across the globe and to future generations of American farmers – just as I did in Liverpool five years ago.

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