BY BILL GILLON
From Cotton Grower Magazine – December 2016
This year, 2016, marked the fiftieth year of The Cotton Research and Promotion Program (the Program). The Program is carried out by cotton farmers and cotton importers who work together to increase the demand for and profitability of cotton. Its purpose is to educate consumers about cotton and to research, innovate, and promote cotton and cotton products.
By the mid-1960s, cotton had lost many of its traditional markets to new man-made synthetic fibers. Industry leaders decided that a public/private partnership was needed to bring all cotton producers together to compete with the research and promotion dollars being spent by cotton’s corporate competition. Their efforts led to the enactment of the Cotton Research and Promotion Act of 1966 and the creation of The Cotton Board.
In a referendum, producers voted to institute a per-bale assessment system to fund the program and established built-in safeguards to protect their investment. Assessments on imported cotton products were established in 1990.
The Cotton Board’s mission is to serve U.S. producers and importers of cotton and cotton products by effectively and efficiently governing the Research and Promotion Program so that it leads to increased demand and consumption of cotton. The Cotton Board collects the assessment that funds the program from the buyers of U.S. upland cotton and from importers of cotton products. The Cotton Board also serves as industry liaison with USDA and works to inform producers and importers of Program activities.
The vision of cotton industry leaders of the 1960s is implemented today through the work of Cotton Incorporated – work that cotton producers and cotton importers fund and direct. Cotton Incorporated’s record of accomplishment and dedication to the cotton industry is exceptional.
Today’s industry leaders draw inspiration from the Program’s rich heritage, as cotton again faces significant competitive challenges. As we enter Cotton’s Next 50 years, it is important to reflect on the vast array of accomplishments the Program has generated so far and renew our faith in the Program and in cotton’s viability for years to come.
In 1972, the cotton module builder was developed under Cotton Incorporated sponsorship. For the first time, modules were able to stay in the field, covered by waterproof tarps, until the gin was ready to receive the harvested cotton. This invention changed the face of the cotton landscape, resulting in a chain of improvements and cost savings from farm to warehouse.
In 1987, Cotton Incorporated introduced wrinkle-resistant technology for cotton. Today, Cotton Incorporated continues its work in cotton finishing technologies. In recent years, Cotton Incorporated has helped engineer cotton fabric with moisture management capabilities that compete with newer synthetic products.
In 1989, Cotton Incorporated launched The Fabric Of Our Lives advertising campaign and introduced cotton as an integral part of the American experience. The campaign marked the first introduction of the iconic tagline “The touch, the feel of cotton, the fabric of our lives.”
In 1998 EasiFlo Cottonseed, a patented process developed by Cotton Incorporated, was made available to dairy feed formulators. Today, Cotton Incorporated’s Cottonseed Research and Marketing Program continues to strive to maximize cotton producers’ profit from seed.
It is hard to imagine the cotton industry today without any one of these many innovations and promotional efforts, and this list barely scratches the surface. As we enter cotton’s next 50 years and again face significant competitive challenges, the Program’s leaders have a renewed commitment to the hard work and dedication required to make cotton the preferred fiber for the world.
We take cotton personally at The Cotton Board. We fight for cotton every day.
Gillon is President and CEO of The Cotton Board