USDA Cotton Grading Office in Bartlett Welcomes Pakistani Textile Executives

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A group of more than a dozen textile executives from Pakistan visited Bartlett on Tuesday for a tour of the facility where the USDA tests and grades bales of cotton.

The visit is part of a larger Cotton Council International special trade mission, the National Cotton Councilexport promotion, which will take the group to visit several sites across the country, in the heart of the American cotton industry.

The assignment began with a farm tour and introduction to Savannah, Georgia, before the executives traveled to the Bartlett Classification Office for a presentation on how the USDA operates its cotton grading facilities.

The goal of the program is to increase Pakistan’s exports by demonstrating the quality of American cotton production.

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“We believe seeing is believing, and if they can come see what we’re doing here, meet our growers, our ginners, our storekeepers, our traders, they’ll have faith in the American cotton industry,” Vaughn said. Jordan, assistant manager. of the International Cotton Council.

A USDA grading office worker in Bartlett sorts cotton samples to grade fiber qualities Tuesday, July 26, 2022.

Beginning with a presentation on the facility’s procedures and technology, the tour focused on the USDA’s decision to primarily use high-volume automated precision instruments, rather than relying on methods slower and less accurate manual classification of cotton. Cotton gins send 8-ounce samples to the office, which are loaded onto conveyor belts, conditioned at the best humidity for accurate results, and tested for various characteristics such as fiber length and strength.

Almost all cotton in the United States is graded by the USDA in such facilities, which has helped make the United States one of the world’s leading cotton exporters, producing over 17 million bales between August 2021 and July 2022, by USDA Production, Supply, and Distribution Statistics.

For the textile industry in Pakistan, finding a large supplier of cotton imports is essential with the country’s cotton production levels threatened by the effects of climate change. According a USDA Foreign Agricultural Service report in 2021, these levels are at a historic low, with demand from textile manufacturers doubling what the country’s farms are able to supply.

“I think it’s a great opportunity between our countries,” said Kamran Arshad, managing director of Ghazi Fabrics International and one of the participating executives. “America exports a lot of cotton; Pakistan has a lot of cotton to buy and import. It’s a win-win situation.

After their stay in Memphis, the group will visit ginneries and warehouses and meet with exporters in Harlingen and Lubbock, Texas, and Visalia, California.

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Executives have already shown an interest in the quality of the American cotton product, impressed by the USDA’s rigorous testing standards.

“As far as the American grading facility, testing facilities, bullet identification, it’s beyond perfect,” Arshad said. “And no other country in the world has that yet.”

Niki Scheinberg is a journalist at The Commercial Appeal. She can be reached at [email protected].

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