By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau: I recently received the latest USDA cotton harvest report for the 2013 season. The state’s cotton farmers are well into their harvest.

Growing up on a cotton farm in southern Arizona brings back fond memories. Living on an Arizona farm or ranch is a unique experience regardless, but a cotton farm has another set of its own unique attributes. Some of them include vast acres (you typically don’t find a small cotton farm in Arizona), special harvest equipment including cotton pickers, and much more.

Arizona Farm Bureau has begun its own harvest tradition this time of year too: picking cotton by hand to fill up our plastic storage bins for our Ag in the Classroom curriculum kits. One of our curriculum kits is cotton. Right now our Ag education team is going into Arizona schools teaching about cotton. So, rather than spend $100 per 30 cotton bolls, the Outreach team of Katie Aikins, Peggy Jo Goodfellow and myself go out on a crisp fall morning to one of our Farm Bureau member’s cotton fields (pre-approved, of course) and pick cotton for the kids in the classroom. In fact, for the second time in a year, Farm Bureau member Adam Hadley of Maricopa County Farm Bureau has let us get into his cotton field for hand picking of select cotton bolls.

Myself, Maricopa County cotton farmer Adam Hatley and Peggy Jo Goodfellow picking cotton for our Arizona students in the classroom.

And, it was a great harvest! We now have plenty of cotton for every child in the classroom to have their own cotton boll. If you ever want to help support our cause, feel free to donate online to Arizona Farm Bureau’s Educational Farming Company.

The Hatley Family

In the meantime, you may be curious to know why Arizona agriculture cotton and specifically the U.S. Cotton industry are so important. The National Cotton Council of America gives us the core reasons in the bullets below.

U.S. cotton is the cotton of choice for leading brands for the following reasons:

  • The U.S. grows the widest range of cotton styles, from short, thick fiber ideal for coarse yarns and heavy cloth, to fine extra-long-staple cotton perfectly suited for high-count yarns and fine fabrics. This wide range of styles and the just-in-time delivery capability of the U.S. cotton merchandising trade allow mills to quickly match fiber characteristics with fashion trends.
  • U.S. cotton is more likely to be free of contaminants than cotton fiber produced in other countries around the world. Cleaner cotton means yarn, fabric and ultimately finished goods have fewer defects. Everyone profits from a reduction in quality claims and product returns. The achievement of zero defect goals demands suppliers use superior cotton.
  • Cotton is a natural, renewable, biodegradable and sustainable fiber. To ensure that the population can continue to reap cotton’s natural benefits, today and in the future, the U.S. cotton industry is committed to the sustainable production of cotton, including utilizing new technology that positively impacts cotton’s environmental footprint. The U.S. cotton industry supports sustainability and the goal of environmental, economic, health and social responsibility for production agriculture.
  • To further increase their comparative advantage, mills use USDA's High Volume Instrument classing and grading system and the service abilities of U.S. merchants and co-operative companies to better manage inventories and to prepare scientifically positioned lay-downs. The bottom line for buyers of U.S.-made yarn and fabric is better performing products that are more cost-efficient than less expensive imitators.
  • Buyers know that exports are important to U.S. cotton farmers. Therefore, they understand and appreciate that the delivery of both quality fiber and service is a high priority for U.S. exporters. They know that U.S. exporters will engage the highly cost efficient U.S. export service providers including U.S. banks, transportation and freight forwarding companies to better service our loyal customers.

So, it’s cotton picking season and we’re celebrating the harvest!!!

Join our Family!