The Cotton Board
Based in Memphis, Tennessee, The Cotton Board is the oversight and administrative arm of the Cotton Research & Promotion Program (the Program), representing U.S. Upland cotton. The Cotton Board is responsible for providing the Program with strategic leadership and oversight of the economic resources devoted to the Program.
To fund the Program, The Cotton Board collects a per-bale assessment on all Upland cotton harvested and ginned in the U.S. and an importer assessment on the cotton content of all Upland cotton products imported into the U.S. The Cotton Board invests those funds with a sole-source contractor, Cotton Incorporated, to carry out the actual research and promotion activities for U.S. producers and importers of cotton.
The Cotton Board also keeps U.S. cotton producers and importers informed about how their investment is working to increase the demand for and profitability of cotton.
Appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, The Cotton Board’s membership consists of U.S. producers of Upland cotton and importers of cotton products, including brands and retailers, whose task is to oversee the Program and provide strategic direction. These volunteer board members set broad policy for the Program, review and recommend Cotton Incorporated’s annual plan and budget, and routinely review and evaluate Program activities. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides oversight of all industry research and promotion boards, including The Cotton Board, which helps ensure fiscal accountability and program integrity.
The Cotton Board Mission
To serve U.S. producers and importers of cotton and cotton products by effectively and efficiently governing the Cotton Research & Promotion Program so that it leads to increased demand for and profitability of cotton.
It all began more than 50 years ago when America’s cotton producers banded together to counter an emerging problem. New & synthetic fabrics had started to capture America’s attention and erode cotton’s share in the marketplace. These visionary cotton producers realized they could pool their resources and invest in ways to improve producer profitability and boost demand for cotton products worldwide.
The passage of the Cotton Research & Promotion Act of 1966 enabled America’s Upland cotton producers to begin battling synthetic competitors and re-establish markets for cotton. In a referendum, producers voted to set up a per-bale assessment system to fund the Cotton Research and Promotion Program (the Program) and established built-in safeguards to protect their investment.
Overseen by the Memphis-based Cotton Board, the nation’s first self-funded ag promotion program was so successful that Upland cotton quickly became the nation’s bestselling fiber. In 1990, the Program expanded to include importers of cotton apparel and other items, allowing retailers like Levi Strauss & Co. and Walmart to share their input.
The Cotton Board has always invested the assessments it collects in a separate contracting company to carry out actual research and promotion activities. The original contracting organization was called the Cotton Producer’s Institute. It operated as a subsidiary of the National Cotton Council from 1961 to 1970. However, in 1970, the Cotton Producer’s Institute was separated from the National Cotton Council and became an independent, non-profit entity named Cotton Incorporated.