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The History of The Cotton Program  
In 1907, an international group of cotton industry representatives met in Atlanta, Georgia to address serious problems that had developed in the marketing of cotton. A resolution was passed which recommended the establishment of uniform cotton standards to “eliminate price differences between markets, provide a means of settling disputes, make the farmer more cognizant of the value of his product, and, therefore, put him in a better bargaining position, and in general be of great benefit to the cotton trade.”

In response to this and similar calls for action over the next several years, laws were passed authorizing the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop cotton grade standards and offer cotton classification services. Thus began an industry-government relationship which remains strong and viable to this day. This long standing partnership demonstrates how government and industry can work together, each respectful of the other’s role, to produce continuing beneficial results for the nation, and for its customers abroad.

Practically all cotton grown in the United States is classed (graded by the Agricultural Marketing Service) at the request of growers who pay a fee for the service. Cotton classification is not mandatory, but growers usually find it essential for marketing their crop and for participation in the USDA price support program.

USDA classes all cotton tendered for delivery on futures contracts on the New York Cotton Exchange and provides arbitration classing services to the industry worldwide. Classification services are also provided to individual buyers, manufacturers, breeders, researchers, and others upon request.

Other services provided by the Cotton Program are: Market News, Standardization, and oversight of the Cotton Research and Promotion Program, which is funded by U.S. growers and importers of cotton products.

International Services related to all of the responsibilities noted above are provided within the scope of the Cotton Program’s legislative authority.

  Last Modified Date: 08/23/2006