Cotton industry groups in the United States and Australia have launched a plan to promote responsible cotton growing practices in the two countries, which produce about 17 percent of the world’s cotton.

Participating in the initiative — Cotton Leads — are the National Cotton Council and its Cotton Council International, Cotton Australia and Cotton Incorporated.

Cotton Leads will be directed by a committee with members from both nations.

The Cotton Foundation project aims specifically at textile brands, retailers and manufacturers who are committed to using cotton that is grown in a “responsible and transparent manner.”

“U.S. and Australian cotton users can take confidence in the Cotton Leads core principles, which are built upon a track record of responsible production practices and a commitment to continuing improvement,” said Kevin Latner, Cotton Council International executive director.

The five core principles are:

• Commitment — to the social, environmental, economic, and regulatory factors to produce world-class cotton.

• Recognition — that sustainable and responsible cotton production requires continual improvement, investment, research, and sharing of best practices information among growers and industry.

• Understanding — that leading change in a responsible and sustainable cotton practices will have the most positive impact when implemented in collaboration with farm, regional, national and international programs.

• Belief — in the benefit of working cooperatively with similar programs that seek to advance responsible and sustainable cotton production in an effort to keep global cotton competitive in world fiber markets.

• Confidence — in a cotton identification system that ensures traceability from farm to manufacturer.

“Ultimately, we are all committed to providing the supply chain with greater volumes of responsibly-grown cotton,” said Cotton Incorporated President/CEO Berrye Worsham. “Cotton Leads is designed to assist businesses along the cotton supply chain with their sustainability goals. Apparel brands, retailers, and manufacturers require large volumes and a reliable supply of responsibly-produced fiber, as well as proof of responsible production. Through Cotton Leads we demonstrate how cotton grown in the United States and Australia can help meet these requirements.”

Cotton harvest from above (photo gallery)

“Cotton producers in Australia and the U.S. pioneered practices that have resulted in impressive, country-wide environmental gains. Both countries approach improvement on a national level. This includes national reporting and regulatory enforcement, but also facilitates the national implementation of best practices and the ability to collect data on a national level,” said Adam Kay, Cotton Australia CEO.

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