Cotton & Tobacco

The Cotton and Tobacco Program headquartered in Memphis, TN, is one of the commodity programs within AMS.  C&T facilitates marketing by providing standardization, grading, and market news services for cotton, cotton related products, and tobacco while also administering the Cotton Research and Promotion program.  C&T maintains a viable and valuable relationship with all segments of the U.S. cotton and tobacco industries.

C&T consists of seven Divisions/Staffs including:  Grading, Standardization & Engineering, Quality Assurance, Market News, Research & Promotion, MRP Laboratory and Scientific IT Support Division, and an Administrative Staff.  The Grading and Quality Assurance Divisions provide user-fee funded services in 10 regional cotton classing offices that serve all cotton-producing states in the U.S.  The Program also maintains one tobacco operations office based in Raleigh, NC.

Services and Key Activities: 

• Cotton Classing - The Cotton & Tobacco Program’s user-fee funded services are an integral part of the U.S. cotton supply chain, since it grades (classes) every bale of cotton produced in the U.S.  In a typical season, Cotton Classing services help to facilitate the marketing of raw cotton valued at approximately $7-8 billion, creating billions more value throughout the supply chain.  Ten regional cotton classing offices located in seven states serve all cotton-producing states in the U.S. 

• Market News - Market News services provide valuable unbiased informa­tion about cotton quality and spot market prices on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis.  The information is captured by state, regionally, and nationally.   

• Cotton Standards - C&T is widely recognized as the inter­national leader, setting the global benchmark, in cotton fiber testing and standardization.  Cotton standards and calibration materials, exclusively produced in the Memphis, TN field headquarters, are delivered to all C&T classing offices and to more than 50 countries worldwide.

• Cotton Futures Certification - Every bale of cotton tendered against U.S. cotton futures contracts is certified by C&T’s Quality Assurance Division.  In addition to cotton futures certification services, Quality Assurance ensures accuracy and consistency of all fiber measurements applied to U.S. cotton during the season.

• Research and Promotion - C&T oversees the Cotton Research and Promotion Program, which is one of over 20 research and promotion programs in AMS.  Cotton R&P oversees important developments in cotton through the Cotton Board and Cotton Incorporated, with one of the most notable being the popular tagline, “Cotton. The Fabric of Our Lives.”

• Tobacco Grading - C&T provides unbiased, third-party grading on tobacco submitted for potential Risk Management Agency (RMA) crop insurance quality-loss adjustments.  Tobacco grading services are offered to producers, companies, and researchers on a voluntary basis. 

• Tobacco Standards – C&T is the only entity that maintains the official U.S. grade standards for tobacco.   These standards are respected worldwide, and the ability to effectively apply these standards for the marketing of tobacco is a desired skill sought by participants in the international tobacco industry.  As such, C&T conducts training workshops in the U.S. and internationally throughout the year.

• National Database – The National Database of cotton quality is maintained by the MRP Laboratory and Scientific IT Support Division.  The database allows for access to cotton classification data through the Cotton Electronic Recording System (CERS).  CERS disseminates over 50 million records annually and allows owners or authorized agents of owners to retrieve classing data from the current crop and/or the previous four crops.

Contact Info:

USDA AMS Cotton and Tobacco Program
3275 Appling Road
Memphis, TN 38133
Phone: (901) 384-3000

Office of the Deputy Administrator

Darryl W. Earnest, Deputy Administrator
Phone: (901) 384-3000

Office of the Associate Deputy Administrators

Ronald Robbins, Associate Deputy Administrator
Monica Alexander, Associate Deputy Administrator
Phone: (901) 384-3000

Grading Division

Robert Seals, Jr., Director
Phone: (901) 384-3010
Billing Questions Email: CTBilling@usda.gov

Standardization and Engineering Division

Gretchen Deatherage and Steve Grantham, Acting Director
Phone: (901) 384-3030
Email: Cotton.Standards@usda.gov
Billing Questions Email: CTBilling@usda.gov

Quality Assurance Division

Kevin Letbetter, Director
Phone: (901) 384-3020
Email: Quality.Assurance@usda.gov
Billing Questions Email: CTBilling@usda.gov

Market News Division

Barbara Meredith, Director
Phone: (901) 384-3016
Email: CottonMN@usda.gov

MRP Laboratory and Scientific IT Support Branch

Jason Hunt, Branch Chief
Phone: (901) 384- 3007
Email:  CottonIT@usda.gov

Research and Promotion Staff

Shethir M. Riva, Director
Phone: (540) 361-2726
Email: CottonRP@usda.gov

Tobacco Field Operations

Gilbert Todd, Field Supervisor
Phone: (919) 856-4552

Administrative Staff

Monica Alexander, Acting Director
Phone:  Phone: (901) 384-3000
Billing Questions Email: CTBilling@usda.gov