California cotton

California is well-represented in U.S. cotton industry

When it comes to national agricultural policy, California is sadly not in the driver’s seat. I say “sadly” because it’s common knowledge that the Golden State produces more food than any other state in the nation and is the only one to produce a whole laundry-list of commodities.

We’ll concede that California is not the leading producer of rice, for example – Arkansas is. We don’t produce the lion’s share of corn, wheat or cotton – other states do.

Even so, it’s interesting to note that on the national level, while national cotton policy is driven from elsewhere in the United States, two California cotton producers – Mark Watte of Tulare and Aaron Barcellos of Los Banos – chair two influential cotton organizations representing upland cotton.

Watte now chairs Cotton Incorporated, which is funded by U.S. growers of upland cotton and importers of cotton and cotton textile products. It is the research and marketing company representing upland cotton.

Barcellos was appointed by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to the cotton board, a quasi-governmental non-profit entity serving as the administrator of the Cotton Research and Promotion Program. It is funded by cotton check-off dollars.

As California producers both were at the recent California Cotton Growers Association (CCGA) annual meeting in Visalia where those attending heard reports on efforts by those representing U.S. cotton and one well-known retailer how U.S. cotton is being marketed.

I’ve said this before: I remain impressed and fascinated by the ingenuity of American farmers and the food they produce. Farming is more than the bucolic practice captured in paintings and old photographs. It’s a complicated business with challenges many Fortune 500 CEOs could never imagine from their corner office or board room seat.

My intrigue with American agriculture comes from the vantage point of a non-farmer. I didn’t grow up on one, but did grow up near enough to them that I started in journalism with a familiarity of agriculture.

Because of my understanding and fascination with American agriculture, and frankly my preference for it as well, it’s presentations by David Earley, senior director of global supply chain marketing with Cotton Incorporated and Mike Carter, western regional vice president for Brooks Brothers that makes me want to read labels and be a little more picky with my apparel.

For instance, choosing American cotton does not have to be an either-or proposition anymore when it comes to the moisture management qualities of synthetic fibers. Apparel that wicks and spreads moisture no longer is solely relegated to synthetics.

TransDRY and Wicking Windows technologies allow consumers to select American cotton apparel that wicks moisture as effectively as synthetics but maintains the superior comfort of cotton. Think of it as the best of both worlds.

For those who want a more supreme level of comfort, the American Pima cotton produced by growers in the West and licensed under the Supima label comes highly recommended. I’ve personally found the Supima shirts I own to be more comfortable than other shirts I own.

Though last year’s California cotton acreage hit a low not seen since before the Great Depression, CCGA President Roger Isom assured the audience that California cotton is not going anywhere, even alluding to the possibility that acreage could be higher this year.

The continued success of American cotton can only be a good thing for consumers.

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