Ralph Lauren, Soil Health Institute launch U.S. Regenerative Cotton Fund
The Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation and North Carolina’s Soil Health Institute announced on Tuesday a founding grant to launch the Institute’s U.S. Regenerative Cotton Fund (USRCF), an industry-first, farmer-facing initiative.
Supported by a five-million-dollar grant from the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation, the fund is intended to support long-term, sustainable cotton production in the United States, with the goal of eliminating one million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) from the atmosphere by 2026.
Currently, cotton makes up more than 80 percent of Ralph Lauren Corporation’s total material use. As part of Ralph Lauren’s Global Citizenship & Sustainability goals, the Company has committed that by 2025, 100 percent of key materials, including cotton, will be sustainably sourced.
“At the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation, we work to make the dream of a better life a reality by championing equity and creating positive change in communities around the world. Partnering to scale solutions that build community resilience are powerful ways to positively impact people’s lives, now and for the future,” said Roseann Lynch, Ralph Lauren Corporation’s chief people officer and head of the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation.
“The U.S. Regenerative Cotton Fund is an ambitious effort crafted in partnership with the experts at the Soil Health Institute that puts growers at the center of creating a sustainable future for U.S. cotton production.”
Complementing Ralph Lauren’s sustainability efforts, the USRCF will empower cotton farmers to adopt regenerative practices, like cover cropping and no till, in a way that benefits their operation. The program will also help to ensure farmers can generate long-term value for their operations including increased profitability.
The USRCF will initially operate in four states – Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi and Georgia -- and will look to expand into Alabama, North Carolina, Missouri, California and Oklahoma, as these nine states represent 85 percent of U.S. cotton production.
Through the USRCF, improvements in soil health and carbon sequestration will be measured through an approach developed by the Soil Health Institute called soil health and soil carbon targets.
“We are very grateful for the opportunity to promote soil health and to assist cotton farmers across the U.S. with storing more carbon, building drought resilience, and mitigating the very effects of climate change that are impacting us all,” said Dr. Cristine Morgan, chief scientific officer for the Soil Health Institute and leader of the U.S. Regenerative Cotton Fund.
“To achieve widespread environmental benefits from regenerative agriculture means we must understand farmers’ needs and experiences when adopting these practices. Adoption is hindered by a lack of information on the business case, locally relevant soil health education programs, and until now, knowledge of how healthy a given soil can become and what that means for improving drought resilience, yield stability, economics, and other benefits for farmers.”
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