Interview with Jimmy Webb

Jimmy Webb
Jimmy Webb
Cotton Council International
Cotton Council International

Cotton still maintains a competitive advantage, as consumers prefer for natural fibers such as cotton.
With Fibre2Fashion Correspondent Cindrella Thawani, Jimmy Webb talks about the challenges that are affecting the production of cotton, globally as well as U.S. cotton industry. Synopsis: COTTON USA is the export promotion program of Cotton Council International (CCI). Besides, it promotes cotton fiber and manufactured cotton products of U.S. in various markets across the world. Jimmy Webb currently serves as the President of National Cotton Council (NCC), an export promotion arm of Cotton Council International (CCI), and he has been elected in February 2012. Webb also serves as a delegate to the Cotton Board, as a director of Southern Cotton Growers, as president of the American Peanut Marketing Association. Moreover, he was the past Georgia chairman of the NCC’s American Cotton Producers and now chairs the NCC's Conservation Task Force. Webb earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture from the University of Georgia. He was the Lancaster Sunbelt farmer of the year from Georgia in 2005 as well as in 2009 winner of the young peanut farmer of the year given by the Georgia Peanut Commission. Excerpts:

How do you see export and import scenario of the U.S. cotton industry?

Recent USDA estimates U.S. cotton production at 15.57 million bales and exports at 11.60 million bales for the marketing year 2011-12. China accounts for more than one and half of U.S. cotton exports. Domestic consumption in the United States is estimated at 3.40 million bales and ending stocks are estimated at 3.20 million bales. For 2012, imported cotton textiles in United States are estimated to raise 19.2 million bale equivalents. Imported goods make up the largest portion of U.S. net domestic consumption, and a significant portion of imported goods contain U.S. cotton. Since much of what the U.S. exports to the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and the CBI (Caribbean Basin Initiative) countries is in the form of fabric and piece goods that come back in the form of finished goods, the trade gap is not as wide as implied by gross imports and exports. Globally, uncertainty over China’s management of its reserves is an important point to consider in terms of imports and exports. World cotton production for the 2011-12 marketing year is estimated at 123.07 million bales and world domestic consumption is estimated at 106.12 million bales, according to USDA estimates. USDA also estimates world imports at 43.40 million bales, exports at 43.42 million bales, and ending stocks at 67.32 million bales.

What factors should be taken into consideration to promote organic cotton? Please share your overview.

It is important to note that both conventional and organic production practices have more things in common than different; the fiber is no different. The terms organic and conventional, only refer to the method by which the cotton was produced and not their qualities. Conventional and organic cotton have similar fiber lengths, strength, micronaire and other properties of cotton fiber but organic cotton can be less uniform. There are strict standards in United States for organic cotton, and it is not easy to become a certified organic cotton operation. The world production of organic cotton currently accounts for less than one percent of the total cotton produced globally. Representing more than 99 percent of global cotton production, conventional cotton is what drives the market. More sustainable agricultural production must balance a growing economy, protection for the environment, and social responsibility. Moreover, both conventional and organic cottons from the U.S. can achieve this balance sought for sustainability. Mills, brands, retailers and consumers can be assured that the U.S. cotton industry supports sustainability and the goal of environmental, economic, health and social responsibility for production agriculture. Cotton is the fiber that is perceived to be the most environmentally benign fiber, while at the same time being the world’s most comfortable fiber.

What are those challenges that are affecting the production of cotton, globally as well as in US? Please interpret.

Competition from man made fibers and cotton prices continue to be important factors to cotton production worldwide. However, cotton's share of the retail market is projected at approximately 40 percent in 2012. Cotton still maintains a competitive advantage, as consumers prefer for natural fibers such as cotton. Results from the Global Lifestyle Monitor™ show that 58 percent of consumers would pay more for clothes made of natural fibers such as cotton, and about half of consumers surveyed worldwide believe that better quality clothes are made from 100 percent natural fiber such as cotton.
Published on: 04/07/2012

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of

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