GREENFIELD, MASS. (Dec. 23, 2008) --U.S. acreage planted with organic cotton increased for the second straight year, according to research compiled by the Organic Trade Association (OTA). Analysis of available data found that the total acres planted in organic cotton grew from 8,510 in 2007 to 9,279 in 2008, constituting a nine percent increase.
Harvest acreage figures for 2008 are not yet available. Other findings show 14,025 bales of organic cotton were harvested in 2007, representing a 73 percent increase over the previous year, when the total number of bales was 8,116. The U.S. organic cotton harvest represents about 2.1 percent of total global organic cotton production.
To compile the research, OTA surveyed organic cotton farmers in the United States who grew organic cotton in 2007, and combined those results with acreage and harvest figures from the Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative.
Ten of 62 farms surveyed returned surveys that met the criteria for analysis. OTA’s survey, funded by Cotton Inc., asked about the types of cotton planted and harvested. Survey respondents planted 2,590 acres of organic upland cotton and 245 acres of organic pima cotton. In 2007, survey respondents harvested 1,716 acres of organic upland cotton and 225 acres of organic pima cotton.
Price paid for organic cotton increased
Other survey findings revealed that changes are taking place within the organic cotton market. Organic cotton farmers saw the range in average price they received per pound increase from between $0.85 and $1.25 for organic upland cotton in 2006 to between $1 and $1.50 in 2007. Organic pima cotton farmers saw a similar increase in price, ranging from $1.65 to $2.09 in 2006 to $1.05 to $3 in 2007.
Additional findings from this year’s survey make clear that several challenges lie ahead for U.S. organic cotton producers. Such producers remain in need of educational and economic resources to support their organic practices and build awareness of and access to high-quality markets for their organic cotton products.
Despite these challenges, survey data and projections from farmers forecast growth in production of U.S. organic cotton to approximately 12,000 acres, a 29 percent increase from 2008.
Organic cotton is grown without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. In addition, federal regulations prohibit the use of genetically engineered seed for organic farming. All cotton sold as organic in the United States must meet strict federal regulations covering how the cotton is grown.
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. Its approximately 1,700 members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others.