Letter: Choose cotton – Vote yes on July 15

Published 4:51 pm Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Cotton is the fabric of our lives, and it’s been an integral thread in the history, economy and culture of Alabama. On July 15, voters can “Choose Cotton” by supporting Amendment 1 to enhance the state’s cotton checkoff program.

This provision would let Alabama cotton farmers like me make an important decision for the future of our industry. If the amendment passes, cotton farmers would be allowed to hold a vote on making participation in the cotton checkoff program automatic for growers.

The cotton checkoff is a self-imposed fee farmers pay when selling cotton at a gin. Cotton farmers created the checkoff in the ‘70s to help our industry rebound from losing market share to man-made fibers. Funds collected must be used for research, educational or promotional activities.

With this amendment, farmers would be able to support additional research projects and educational opportunities to better our family businesses.

The Alabama Cotton Commission, a volunteer group of cotton farmers, is responsible for choosing activities to support with checkoff funds. This group understands the issues and needs of Alabama cotton farmers, and they are good stewards of our checkoff money.

For more than 30 years, Alabama cotton farmers have chosen to participate in this checkoff program. Funds have been used for research initiatives including boll weevil eradication, crop rotations, improving soil quality and best practices to control pests and weeds.

The popular slogan, “Cotton — The fabric of our lives,” was created through the checkoff and is now a household phrase. This promotional campaign helped the cotton industry rebound from losing market share to synthetic fabrics.

Support for the cotton checkoff is a big reason cotton remains an important part of Alabama’s economy, accounting for 2,800 jobs and $290.1 million in economic impact. And supporting Amendment 1 on July 15 will help ensure the future for Alabama’s cotton farmers.

As a cotton farmer, I’ve seen first-hand the positive impact the cotton checkoff has had for me and other farmers in our state.

Currently, the checkoff contains a refund policy, which only 7 percent of farmers request. However, those farmers still have access to and benefit from checkoff-funded research and promotion without paying into the program.

When you go to the polls July 15, remember to choose cotton and vote “yes” on Amendment 1 to allow our state’s cotton farmers to enhance efforts to improve our industry.

Find out more about the cotton checkoff at ChooseCotton.com.


Ricky Wiggins,

Covington County Cotton Farmer