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Why America Needs the ‘Michael Jordan of Cotton’

Calling all cotton growers: Sourcery wants standouts in the sector to join its dream team.

Sourcery, a full-service global sourcing platform that connects brands, suppliers and farmers committed to transforming trade, issued a Request for Information (RFI) to the American cotton community in search of growers who demonstrate best-in-class practices in regenerative agriculture through cotton.

This RFI is issued on behalf of one of Sourcery’s Direct-to-Grower Partner organizations—an internationally recognized garment manufacturer known for pioneering product innovation and sustainability across its broad range of products. This partner was not named.

The project asks what makes growers different and whether they might be the “Michael Jordan” of cotton? The reason for this, Sourcery said, is that despite the efforts of growers to adopt more sustainable practices, few are individually recognized and fairly rewarded for those efforts. Therefore, growers need to know their unique value amid an industry of traditional commodity cotton trading and a status quo sustainable sector that seeks to blur the lines among farmers, regardless of how they perform.

“Basketball was an American invention, and it was Michael Jordan who reinvented and forever changed the game [of basketball], both on and off the court,” Crispin Argento, managing director of Sourcery, said. “Jordan was one of the first players to gain international recognition and be rewarded [financially and reputationally] for his unique contribution to the game—everyone [who] followed Jordan wanted to ‘be like Mike.’ We think there exist cotton growers who can lead by example and change the future of the cotton industry and commodities forever.”

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Argento hopes the sentiment of the “Michael Jordan of cotton” resonates with growers in the United States and around the world who are going above and beyond to change the way cotton is grown through regenerative agriculture and recognize that adopting these practices should bring recognition and financial reward.

Field Farm Cotten North Gujrat, India
Dinodia Photo/Getty Images

In partnering with Sourcery and its partners through Direct-to-Grower, growers who are changing the way cotton is cultivated can also change how cotton is traded so that stakeholders are genuinely recognized and rewarded fairly for their efforts in delivering superior fiber quality and benefiting people and the planet through their efforts.

Argento said he believes that the traditional commodity trading system must evolve to enable the most sustainable growers to shine and be rewarded for their efforts.

“Centuries old traditional commodity trading practices still exist today whereby every grower is treated the same without recognition of his or her individual efforts toward quality and sustainability—it is completely un-American, and stifles innovation and progress across the entire global cotton industry,” Crispin said. “Brands, retailers and suppliers can invest in their organizational practices and their facilities to become more sustainable and be rewarded for these efforts—yet most cotton growers, many of whom remain obscured from the textile value chain, are forced to sell their fiber into a market that does not value social and environmental superiority. Therefore, we are looking for the Michael Jordan of cotton and are looking to recruit our all-star ‘dream team’ of growers through Direct-to-Grower.”