OF COTTON IN TEXAS
as defined by Glade, Meyer, and Stults in a 1996 United States
Department of Agriculture publication, is "a soft white
vegetable fiber obtained from the seed pod of the cotton plant,
a member of the mallow family. Cotton is produced in about 75
countries. The two principal types of cotton grown in the
United States are upland cotton and American Pima cotton,"
Cotton has a long history.
Archaeological and historical evidence shows the use of cotton
as early as 5,800 B.C. in the Tehuacan Valley in Mexico (Elliot,
Hoover, & Porter, 1968). "These ancient remains of cotton
culture show that the cultivation and manufacturing of cotton
evolved independently in the Old World and in the New World,"
(Elliot, Hoover, & Porter, 1968, p. 3). By tracing the evidence
of cotton, it is estimated that cotton reached Texas in the
early 1800s. "During the nineteenth century and up to World War
I, the traditional "Cotton Belt" was made up primarily of the
states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama,
Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Oklahoma and
Texas," (Elliot, Hoover, and Porter, 1968, p. 9).
The United States produced about
18.3 million bales of cotton during the 2003 season (NASS-USDA,
2004). The cotton industry provides more than 400,000 jobs
nationwide and generates $25 billion in economic support
annually (ERS-USDA, 2004).
Keith Collins, the chief economist
for the USDA in 1996, wrote:
“Cotton is the single most
important textile fiber in the world, accounting for nearly 50
percent of total world fiber production. Although some 80
countries produce cotton, the United States, China, India,
Pakistan, and Uzbekistan account for about 75 percent of world
production. The United States produces about 20 percent of the
world's cotton and uses 12 percent” (p. vi).
Collins also stated:
“Cotton production, marketing and
manufacturing affect the lives of many people, from producers to
consumers. The 34,000 cotton producers scattered across the
Cotton Belt from Virginia to California received about $4.1
billion during 1992-93 from the sale of cotton lint and an
additional $600 million from the sale of cottonseed. Ginning,
warehousing, and marketing also provide significant sources of
revenue and employment in local areas. Moreover, many producers
and merchandisers of pesticides, fertilizers, and machinery and
equipment are involved. Because cotton is a major raw material
for the textile and apparel industries, spinners, weavers,
finishers, and manufacturers of apparel and household and
industrial products depend heavily on the cotton industry. The
estimated retail value of domestically produced cotton apparel
products alone totals $18 billion to $20 billion a year” (p.
"U.S. cotton acreage increased by
more than 20 percent in the past decade, averaging 13.3 million
acres since 1990. This rise in total planted acreage reverses a
60-year decline" (Glade, et al., 1996, p. i).
The census of agriculture, acting
as a leading source of statistics about the United States'
agricultural production, reported 5,221,561 total acres of
cotton were harvested on 10,971 farms in Texas in 1997 (National
Agricultural Statistics Service, 1999a).
Cotton is the leading cash crop in
the state of Texas. Of all 50 states, Texas leads in cotton
production, generating a statewide economic impact of $5.2
billion. Of that $5.2 billion, Texas farmers generate a $1.6
billion income (Smith & Anisco, 2002). Texas farmers produce
about 4.5 million bales annually (National Cotton Council,
2002). The High Plains region of Texas produced 2.18 million
bales in 2003 (Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., n.d.).
"In this area [Texas], we have no
choice but to grow cotton. If we're going to be in agriculture,
we're going to be in cotton. We can grow cotton with less water
than any other crop from an irrigated standpoint. We can also
grow dry land cotton. When the irrigation water disappears,
cotton won't disappear," (Kreig, personal communication, June 3,