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US Cotton Trust Protocol Chooses Third-Party Verification Program

The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, a year in the making and set to launch next month, has selected Control Union Certifications North America (CUC) to implement an independent, third-party verification program.

Control Union was chosen from six applicants following a thorough selection process. Data about Trust Protocol cotton is proven through the Field to Market program, measured by its Field Calculator and now to be verified by CUC.

Control Union Certifications has certified more than 150 programs worldwide, including working as a key partner in the early development and piloting phases of Field to Market’s Impact Claim Verification Protocol. CUC has also worked with the Better Cotton Initiative on its third-party verification programs in multiple countries.

CUC auditors in the U.S. have a long history of working in other agricultural fields such as corn, soy and canola on standards focused on land conversion, irrigation systems, water management, integrated pest management, soil protection, crop rotation and conservation practices.

U.S. cotton growers will complete a self-assessment of farming practices and share their field data through the Field to Market’s Fieldprint Platform. The CUC will verify the Trust Protocol annual data that will highlight key sustainability metrics–land use, soil carbon, water management, soil loss, greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency.

“Control Union’s agriculture standards, experience and impeccable reputation will provide brands, retailers and consumers assurance that the cotton fiber sourced through the Trust Protocol is continually improving,” Ken Burton, executive director of the Trust Protocol, said.

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The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol will launch on June 15. The Trust Protocol was recently added to Textile Exchange’s list of preferred fibers and materials.

In a period of increasing supply chain scrutiny and a growing demand for transparency, the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol aims to set a standard for more sustainably grown cotton. It brings quantifiable and verifiable goals and measurement to the issue of sustainable cotton production and drives continuous improvement in key sustainability metrics.

Becoming a member of the Trust Protocol will give brands and retailers the data that provides critical assurances they need that the cotton fiber element of their supply chain is more sustainable, and free from environmental and social risk. The Trust Protocol is overseen by a multi-stakeholder board of directors comprised of representatives from brands and retailers, civil society and independent sustainability experts as well as the cotton-growing industry, including growers, ginners, merchants, wholesalers and cooperatives, mills and cottonseed handlers.

CUC is an international auditing company founded in the Netherlands in 2002, and now has a presence in 70 countries, with 4,500 employees and over 40,000 clients worldwide, ranging from multinationals to regional producers as well as governments and NGOs. The company has a long track record of managing certification programs, including with growers and food and agriculture companies around the world.