It costs money to make money, and cotton producers from across the country recently learned how their money is used to keep cotton on the consumers’ “got-to-have” list and creatively covering up birthday suits around the world.

Cotton farmers know for each bale of cotton they sell, $1 plus one-half of one percent of the bale’s value is collected by the Cotton Board. The assessment ended up being about $2.50 per bale last year.

The Cotton Board contracts with Cotton Incorporated projects and grants to increase the demand and profitability of cotton through research and promotion, from state-level farm production to national and global projects relating to manufacturing.

The Cotton Board organizes two to three multi-regional producer tours each year to bring producers from around the country to Cotton Incorporated headquarters in Cary, N.C., to show off the facility and research conducted in house, which includes fiber processing, dyeing, finishing, product development and product analysis.

The facility’s most notable recent coup came when it worked with Under Armour to launch what the company calls Charged Cotton. Offered in more than 60 Under Armour items, Charged Cotton is the company’s leading seller now, a far cry from just a few years ago when Under Armour publicly called cotton out as an enemy.

“I tell you (the Cotton Incorporated headquarters) is a lot like a mini-spinning factory. With all the tests they do, I thought it was very well organized and informative, and I understand a lot more about the tests they are doing to help manufactures cut costs and the products developed to help keep cotton’s market share,” said Donnie Wakefield, who farms in Jackson, S.C., and plans to plant 1,200 to 1,400 acres of cotton this year, the most he has had in many years.

If he was a bit skeptical of the cotton assessment before, he said he isn’t now. His reaction mirrored those of the other 85 farmers on the tour.

“I had no idea after the cotton left the gin how it was handled and what all went into it down the line and to consumers,” Wakefield said.

“Considering what we have to compete with, I’m not at all aggravated as I might have been before about the assessment. I think it is money well spent and needed. … In fact, I’d like to go (on the tour) again to pick up on what I might have missed.”

He specifically liked the work focusing on getting more cotton into women’s clothing. “I come from a family with a lot of ladies and they say it is hard to find women’s clothes with cotton in them. That’s a good focus. Women buy most of the clothes anyway, right?” Wakefield said.

The Cotton Incorporated producer tours are funded in part by John Deere, Monsanto Company and Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc.