The dollars that American cotton producers and importers invest in the Cotton Research and Promotion Program continue to produce “a fine report card,” says Bill Gillon, president and chief executive officer of the Cotton Board at Memphis.

Since the establishment of the checkoff program in 1966, the continuing vision of cotton producers and industry leaders has kept cotton “an economic fixture in the U.S., helping provide an economic return to their families and communities,” he said at the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Commodity Conference.

Today, as a result of the research and promotion efforts of Cotton Incorporated, Gillon says, “More consumers believe cotton and cotton blends are best suited for today’s fashions than another fabric. Natural fibers, such as cotton, are perceived as being of a better quality than non-natural fibers.

“Ninety percent of consumers believe cotton is safe for the environment, and significantly, you own one of the most trusted, widely respected, and well-known brands in the world: the Seal of Cotton. ”

And, he says, an economic analysis by Texas A&M and Texas Tech Universities, has shown that every $1 invested by producers in the checkoff program generates a return of almost $9, and for every $1 invested by importers there is a $15 return.

In the research arena, Gillon notes, Cotton Incorporated has been in the forefront of new techniques and technology to improve cotton production, cotton uses, and cotton marketing, including the cotton module builder, the Engineered Fiber Selection System, wrinkle-resistant technology, the Engineered Knit program, EasiFlo Cottonseed, Tough Cotton durable press technology, and a host of developments to assist world textile mills in a more effective, efficient use of cotton.

Cotton Incorporated also developed one of the world’s most effective marketing campaigns, “The Fabric of Our Lives,” which has helped not only to boost sales of cotton products, but to create an image in consumers’ minds that cotton represents superior quality and sustainability.

“The vision of cotton industry leaders in the 1950s and 1960s — at a time when the industry was in serious decline and man-made fiber manufacturers were pouring tens of millions of dollars into research and promotion of polyester, Dacron, and other fibers — created the Research and Promotion program that gave our industry a second life, and has continued opening new doors for cotton and its products,” Gillon says.