Submitted to: National Cotton Council Beltwide Cotton Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/11/2007
Publication Date: 1/11/2007
Citation: McWilliams, D.A., Wakelyn, P.J., Hughs, S.E. 2007. Considerations of organic cotton production and ginning. National Cotton Council Beltwide Cotton Conference. January 9-12, 2007, New Orleans, Louisiana. 2007 CDROM p. 1957-1973. Interpretive Summary: Approximately 115,000 bales of cotton are raised worldwide that are termed "organic" with the United States producing about 5000 to 8000 bales of this total. For any agricultural crop in the US to be called organic, it must meet criteria set up by the US National Organic Standards Board. The goals of the organic criteria, among other things, are to promote biodiversity and crop production practices that lead to long term crop production sustainability. There are many misconceptions about what sustainability is and organic cotton production may not be as sustainable as many conventional cotton production practices. This paper gives an overview of organic cotton production and processing in the US and its relationship to conventional production and processing.
Technical Abstract: Approximately 5,000-8,000 bales of organic cotton are currently produced in the U.S. with approximately 115,000 bales being produced worldwide that are certified "organic." Although small compared to the overall crop (less than 0.1 percent), the production of organic cotton has been increasing recently. To be called "organic" in the US, an agricultural crop must meet the following US National Organic Standards Board definition: Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony. Sustainable agriculture is an important concept used today but there are many misconceptions about what it is (i.e., organic crop production has become part of that focus but it may not be as sustainable as conventional cotton production). Conventional cotton production already uses many of the organic cotton practices but environmental stewardship can continually be improved. This paper gives an overview of organic cotton production and processing in the US and its relationship to conventional cotton production and processing, including irrigation and ginning.