Cotton Australia and Cotton Incorporated have announced a joint program to raise awareness of the responsible growing practices among cotton producers in Australia and the U.S. The program is called "Cotton LEADS" and is aimed at textile brands, retailers and manufacturers committed to sourcing cotton that is grown in a responsible and transparent manner. Validating the Cotton LEADS program are the national-level oversight, regulatory enforcement, and transparency of practices common to both countries. Combined, Australia and the U.S. account for roughly 17% of global cotton production.
“Cotton LEADS is designed to assist businesses along the cotton supply chain with their sustainability goals,” says Berrye Worsham, president and CEO of Cotton Incorporated. “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 U.S. and Australia can help meet these requirements."
“Cotton producers in Australia and the U.S. pioneered practices that have resulted in impressive, country-wide environmental gains,” says Adam Kay, CEO of Cotton Australia. “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."
The national focus of Cotton LEADS differs from the range of farm-by-farm certification programs that have emerged in recent years, and which the International Cotton Advisory Committee has termed “identity cottons,” but the goals are parallel. Cotton LEADS members are committed to providing the supply chain with greater volumes of responsibly-grown cotton, to ongoing improvement and to the transparency of processes and metrics.
The Cotton LEADS program is founded on five core principles—commitment, recognition, understanding, believe and confidence.
The National Cotton Council of America and its export promotion program Cotton Council International join Cotton Australia and Cotton Incorporated as founding members. Kevin Latner, executive director of Cotton Council International says, “Users of Australian and U.S. cotton can take confidence in these core principles, which are built upon a track record of responsible production practices and a commitment to continuing improvement.”
Cotton LEADS currently has two member nations, Australia and the U.S. A committee comprised of three members from each member nation, and two members from partnering industry organizations, will guide activities and the use of program funds.