Organic cotton acreage grows 15-fold in a decade - Organic Trade Association
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Organic cotton acreage grows 15-fold in a decade


ANAHEIM, Calif. (Jan. 12, 2001)—There is growing interest in and demand for organic cotton from consumers and companies, speakers will report at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences being held here.

According to data prepared by the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA’s) Fiber Council, U.S. organic cotton acreage has increased 15-fold since 1990, when only 900 acres were grown. During 2000, an estimated 13,460 acres of certified organic and transitional cotton were planted in six states. These plantings were 43 percent greater than the 9,368 acres planted in 1998. During 2000, organic cotton was grown for the first time in Kansas.

In 2000, many organic cotton farmers were forced to decrease their acreage from that of 1999 due to state mandated boll weevil eradication zones. These farmers would have had to spray pesticides not approved for organic production, thus losing their organic certification status, or plow under the crop if an unacceptable number of boll weevil were found.

These will be among the findings presented by OFC Coordinator Sandra Marquardt Saturday, Jan. 13, in a 10:15 a.m. session entitled "Organic Cotton: Production and Marketing Trends in the U.S. and Globally" during the Cotton Economics and Marketing Conference.

Interest in organic products, both food and fiber, has been growing both domestically and internationally, according to OTA. U.S. producers, however, face stiff competition from overseas growers able to grow organic cotton at lower prices due to lower labor costs. Data recently released by the UK-based Pesticides Trust indicate that between 1997 and 1999, Turkey surpassed the United States as the largest grower of organic cotton.

In addition to Marquardt’s talk, three OTA-member companies—Nike, Inc., Patagonia, Inc. and Genetic ID—will give presentations related to organic fiber. Patagonia and Nike representatives will speak about use of organic cotton in their sportswear lines. Patagonia uses 100 percent organic cotton, while Nike includes three percent organic cotton in its knit wear. Meanwhile, a spokesperson from Genetic ID will speak on non-GMO certification of cotton products.

Coordinated by the National Cotton Council and its cooperating partners, the Beltwide Cotton Conferences are an annual forum for farmers, mills, researchers, extension personnel and agribusiness representatives to learn about the latest research developments and their practical applications in cotton production and processing.

January 12, 2001

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