CELEBRATING 50 YEARS

Celebrating 50 years of grower advocacy.

View the timeline below of some of Cotton Australia's, and the industry's, achievements and milestones over the years!

TIMELINE

Colour Key 

1972

Australian Cotton Foundation (ACF) established by Namoi Cotton Cooperative, Auscott Limited and Queensland Cotton Marketing Board. These organisations financed ACF, along with a $0.23 per bale grower levy. ACF began as a client of public relations firm Professional Public Relations that provided issues management advice and arranged promotional activities.

1972

Australian Cotton growers Research Association (ACGRA) formed with Richard Williams as Chairman and funded by a voluntary levy of $0.25 per bale. Members were Namoi Cotton Cooperative, Auscott Limited and Queensland Cotton Marketing Board, Cotton Seed Distributors and the Ord River Cooperative. ACGRA was established to raise and invest grower dollars in research projects.

1972-73

CSIRO moves its cotton research work at Yanco and the Ord to Narrabri, NSW, following eight years pf lobbying by many – Richard Williams a major force for this change.

1973

Insect plague destroys 30% of the crop.

1973 -76

Widespread floods throughout the major cotton regions of northern NSW for a number of years running.

1975

ACF’s major focus during the ‘70s is managing media issues relating to agricultural chemicals and workers and ramping up positive promotion of Australian cotton products.

1975

Industry is focussed on securing investments in capital infrastructure such as roads, rail, electricity and water to support a growing industry.

1975

Cotton production reaches 110,000 bales.

1975

Industry’s first major attempt at IPM with the release of the Trichogramma (wasp).

1976

Short subject film produced by ACF about cotton growing in Australia wins Best Agricultural Film from New York Film and TV Awards.

1976

First PhD funded, Peter Twine.

1977

Early funding for irrigation scheduling work.

1978

Australian Cotton Mark launched at the Sydney Opera House.

1978

Grant for Verticillium resistance breeding and bacterial blight awarded.

1978

ACGRA grants $50,000 for Australian Cotton Research Institute insectarium facility at Myall Vale and insect resistance studies.

1979

Major funding for development of SIRATAC (CSIRO) and Extension.

1980

Cotton promotions featuring giant t-shirts, Easter Show displays and give-aways like ‘Wrapped in Cotton’ stickers and posters.

1980

Cotton production reaches 435,000 bales.

1981

R&D levy raised to $1 per bale.

1981

Cotton Research Council established (Australian government matches grower R&D levy).

1982

Severe and widespread drought hits.

1982

First Australian Cotton Conference held in Goondiwindi, with an overhead projector the main form of technology.

1983

Pyrethroid resistance detected.

1983

Darling River Cotton Company becomes a new member of ACGRA and ACF, the start of a new wave of gins to join.

1985

Cotton production reaches 1.1 million bales.

1986

R&D budget doubles in one year to $2 million, reflecting rapid industry expansion.

1987

ACF produces first chemical safety chart.

1989

Maree McCaskill appointed as first CEO of the ACF, establishing itself as a stand-alone organisation.

1990

First Industry Environmental Audit ever undertaken by an agricultural industry in the southern hemisphere.

1990

500,000 people witness 73 ‘Wrapped in National Fibres’ fashion parade at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, with reports of the event running in 300 newspapers across the country.

1990

Cotton production reaches 1.287 million bales.

1990

CRDC established, replacing Cotton Research Council, with an R&D budget of $3.5 million.

1991

Promotion activities ramped up: Wrapped in Cotton poster and TV campaign, education kit developed, launch of a distinctive new Cotton Mark and brand owners start attaching cotton swing tags to products.

1991

First Industry Development Officer employed in the Macquarie.

1992

ACF Board votes to renew its membership to take into account the recently formed Cotton Grower Associations - 10 new CGAs also join ACGRA.

1992

First Cotton CRC bid successful, under the banner of Sustainable Cotton Production.

1993

ACF staff hold shed meetings to talk about safe work practices.

1994

First Wrapped in Cotton Fashion parades at the Royal Queensland Show (Ekka) to showcase the work of Australia’s leading designers to 70,000 people.

1994

Insecticide residues found in gin trash fed to beef cattle, prompting an industry and government crisis – leads to growing community concerns.

1994

TIMS (Transgenic Insecticide Management) Committee formed for industry oversight of insecticides and transgenic cotton varieties. Dick Browne is the first Chair.

1995

Drought causes harvest to fall to 1.5 million bales.

1995

Allan Williams appointed as Executive Officer of ACGRA, replacing long-serving Secretary David Swallow.

1996

New slogan introduced. ‘Growing Better All The Time’ along with major TV advertising campaign.

1996

194 registered users of the Cotton Mark.

1996

Ingard Cotton Grown commercially for the first time – Australia’s first transgenic cotton variety making up 8% of cotton area.

1996

All major processors and all Cotton Grower Associations are now members of Cotton Australia and ACGRA.

1997

ACF changes its name to Cotton Australia, in part to avoid confusion with the Australian Conservation Foundation.

1997

NSW Government announces plans to cut access to water for irrigators by 10%.

1997

Gary Punch appointed as CEO.

1997

Formation of FUSCOM (Fusarium Committee) as disease spreads through the industry.

1998

Pesticide use reaches crisis point with a shipment of beef bound for Korea found to be contaminated with endosulfan.

1998

Federal Agriculture Minister Mark Vaile issues a blunt warning to the cotton industry to ‘get it right’, that contamination of the beef industry would not be tolerated.

1998

The Cotton Store opens at Darling Harbour, Sydney – the first retail outlet in the world to showcase a product from farm to fashion, with an education centre.

1998

Endosulfan, used to control Heliothis caterpillar, makes up 70% of all chemicals used by the cotton industry, increasing community concerns around pesticides.

1998

More than 500,000 hectares of cotton planted for the first time.

1998

Severe and major insect pressure across the whole industry result in Area Wide Management groups to implement Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

1998

Cross-industry Heliothis Working Group secures $4.5 million from Queensland Government to explore non-toxic options for Heliothis control.

1999

97% of all growers introduced to the BMP program at 300 workshops attended by 3,000 industry people.

1999

60 local Aboriginal workers placed by the cotton industry’s Aboriginal Employment Strategy in the Gwydir, sponsored by Cotton Australia.

1999

Policy and Legislation team broadened to focus lobbying efforts on gaining legally enshrined and fully tradeable water entitlements granted in perpetuity.

1999

Phillip Russell appointed as CEO.

1999

Re-bid for Cotton CRC successful, becomes the Australian Cotton CRC.

1999

ACGRA and Cotton Australia join forced to manage media relations for the ninth Australian Cotton Conference.

2000

270 independent audits of grower’s spray drift management plans show 97% compliance with new endosulfan label requirements.

2000

Cotton Australia and ICAC host the International Cotton Advisory Committee meeting in Cairns.

2000

First Roundup Ready cotton grown commercially.

2000

Cotton production reaches 3,202 million bales.

2000

Major outbreak of bunchy top disease.

2000

Ultra-Narrow Row cotton planting configurations trialled.

2000

Small commercial areas planted in southern NSW.

2001

National Registration Authority announced ULV endosulfan to be withdrawn from the market.

2001

First fully accredited BMP cotton bale is produced by the Austin family at ‘Badminton’ in Theodore, Queensland.

2001

ACGRA becomes foundation member of Plant Health Australia.

2001

R&D levy raised to $2.25.

2002

First Bollgard II cotton grown commercially.

2002

Silverleaf Whitefly emerges as a cotton pest for the first time.

2002

Cotton research finds that truck wash (Farm Cleanse) is effective in disinfecting farms for Fusarium.

2002

Rural Water Use Efficiency Financial Incentive Scheme helps growers fund WUE equipment.

2003

Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry recognises Cotton BMP as a world-leading environmental management system.

2003

Cotton education program winds down after reaching 40,000 students and close to 100,000 students through its outreach programs over five years.

2003

Second Cotton Industry Environmental Audit shows the BMP program has driven massive cultural change on-farm, with improvements across almost all areas of cotton production.

2003

With the encouragement of Cotton Australia and NFF, the Australian Government joins Brazil in challenging US cotton subsidy programs through WTO.

2004

Cotton Australia welcomes National Water Initiative that contains long sought-after outcomes: water access rights granted in perpetuity, issues of structural adjustment for those affected by reform addressed and tradeable rights.

2004

Transgenic varieties make up 50% of Australia’s cotton area.

2005

World Trade Organisation rules in favour of Brazil in dispute with the USA and orders US Government to bring its cotton programs into line with WTO rules.

2005

Growers produce 2.9 million bales.

2005

New Cotton Catchment Communities CRC commences, with Cotton Australia and ACGRA as partners.

2006

Roundup Ready Flex cotton grown commercially for the first time.

2006

Greg Kauter appointed as ACGRA Executive Officer.

2006

Formal participation in the national framework for biosecurity by signing the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed and developing the first cotton Biosecurity Plan.

2007

$700,000 in DAFF funding for Tools for Managing the Drought Project.

2007

$10 billion National Plan for Water Security announced, setting a new federal policy platform for water reform. Cotton Australia successful in having current Water Sharing Plans recognised as part of the Plan.

2007

Adam Kay appointed as CEO.

2007

Liberty Link transgenic cotton grown commercially for the first time.

2008

Cotton Australia and ACGRA merge to provide one united voice for cotton growers across all policy and research areas. Members are 12 ginning companies, 16 Cotton Grower Associations, and two Service and Industry Members (30 members in total). A Board of ginners and growers representatives oversee the organisation.

2009

16,000 hectares of cotton affected by phenoxy herbicide (Group I) drift, costing the industry $9 million in lost production.

2009

Cotton Industry 2029 Vision developed with input from all industry sectors. By 2029, the industry wants to be Differentiated, Responsible, Tough, Successful, Respected, Capable.

2009

Solenopsis Mealybug, a new exotic pest, found in cotton for the first time.

2009

Agriculture excluded from the federal government’s draft Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme legislation as part of a coalition deal, reflecting Cotton Australia’s policy position.

2009

85% of cotton fields mapped on cottonmap.com.au as part of a broader strategy to reduce incidence of 2,4D drift.

2010

Cotton production reaches 1.594 million bales – still severely drought affected.

2010

First round modules produced.

2010

Cotton dryland plantings reach a record 35% of the total crop planted.

2010

Decade long drought recedes with widespread flooding that caused severe damage to cotton crops in some areas.

2010

Guide to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan recommends cuts in diversions across the Basin between 3,000 GL – 4,000 GL, and predicts just 800 jobs would be lost – community outrage follows and CRC research user to counter this claim.

2010

Productivity Commission Review threatens rural R&D. Cotton Australia coordinates cross-sectoral group of over 20 commodity groups. Federal Ag Minister pledges not to change funding arrangements a major win.

2010

Federal Government announces it would only purchase water entitlements from willing sellers at full market value in regard to Murray-Darling Basin adjustments – a major win.

2010

‘Cotton Safe’ program launched to promote work health and safety issues.

2010

Revised myBMP program launched, a web-based system making it easier for growers to use and bringing all of the industry’s sustainability resources and knowledge together.

2011

Cotton planted area reaches more than 600,000 hectares for the first time.

2011

Third Environmental Assessment (audit) commences.

2011

In role of representative organisation to CRDC, Cotton Australis selects new CRDC Board candidates for the first time.

2011

Round modules represent 85% of harvested area.

2011

Cotton Australia negotiates outcomes to alleviate equipment movement restrictions during critical harvest period.

2012

Cotton Australia celebrates its 40th anniversary with an anniversary dinner in Narromine, a special issue of the Annual Report, a YouTube video series, and a cotton conference display looking back over 40 years.

2012

Cotton Australia becomes a member of the global Better Cotton Initiative.

2012

Cotton Australia and the US cotton industry work together to develop the Cotton Leads program to promote the sustainability credentials of both countries.

2012

Cotton Australia Transport Guide updated to include round modules.

2012

Cotton Australia’s Education program is re-launched, connecting the cotton industry with school teachers and students.

2012

Cotton CRC ends with 19 years of cotton research, $320 million invested in R&D, resulting in at least $2 billion worth of value.

2012

A record crop of 5.3 million bales produced.

2012

98.6% of cotton crop made up of transgenic varieties.

2012

CottonInfo - the industry’s extension program – is launched as a joint venture between CA, CSD, CRDC.

2013

For the first time, Cotton Australia has a stand at the Intertextile event in Shanghai promoting Australian cotton to the world.

2013

Cotton Australia’s Cotton to Market program is launched to strategically enhance the promotion of Australian cotton to brands and retailers, and to support them on their journey using our fibre in their products.

2014

Water embargoes in northern NSW overturned following lobbying by Cotton Australia and irrigation industry bodies.

2014

Cotton Australia becomes a Strategic Partner of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) following a formal benchmarking process to align the ‘my Best Management Practice’ (myBMP) program with the Better Cotton Standard.

2014

Cotton’s first Herbicide Resistance Management Strategy released, which is an important step for stewardship and managing glyphosate resistance.

2015

Supplementary water licences issued in perpetuity after a decade long advocacy effort by Cotton Australia.

2015

Through its advocacy, Cotton Australia achieved a regulatory determination to reduce electricity pricing.

2015

Easter transport notices and exemptions secured through Cotton Australia’s advocacy.

2015

Research identifies a defoliating strain of Verticillium dahlia in QLD and NSW thanks to proactive disease monitoring.

2015

The first ever resilience assessment of the Australian cotton industry is undertaken, outlining cotton’s resilience and preparedness.

2015

The world’s first cotton climate change facility developed at ACRI, with support from CRDC.

2015

The industry’s first Workforce Development Strategy is developed by CRDC and Cotton Australia.

2016

An extension to planting windows is secured by Cotton Australia.

2016

Cotton Australia lobbied to avoid a Road Transport Renumeration Tribunal (RSRT), avoiding transport price hikes.

2016

Cotton Australia lobbied and secured natural disaster assistance for growers hit by super storm cells.

2016

Cotton Australia director Simon Corish appointed to the Board of BCI.

2016

The development of local area management for schemes in Queensland is progressed.

2016

500,000ha planted of irrigated and dryland cotton, the largest crop in five years.

2017

The AgSkilled workforce training program begins for NSW growers – a direct partnership between Cotton Australia, GRDC, and the NSW Government to invest $14.7 million over three years.

2017

The benefit-cost ratio of best practices program myBMP is measured at 9.1:1 - $9.10 in benefit for growers for every $1 invested by growers and the Government through CRDC.

2018

Cotton Australia launches its 2018-2023 Strategic Plan, with the aim of ensuring the industry is valued, viable and advanced.

2018

A record number of delegates attend the Australian Cotton Conference, with 2,460 people present.

2018

Cotton Australia stewarded the ‘More Than Flow’ campaign, successfully rallying communities and growers to engage in the Northern Basin Review.

2018

Cotton Australia advocated and secured a successful outcome on the backpacker tax issue.

2018

Through its advocacy work, Cotton Australia helped secure extended planting windows for BollGard 3 cotton.

2018

Following successful advocacy from Cotton Australia, the ACCC launched a review into electricity pricing.

2018

The first commercial cotton trial in 15 years is picked in the Northern Territory, supported by industry-led research.

2019

One of the worst droughts in a century takes hold, triggering a dramatic decline in cotton crop size due to the lack of water.

2019

Media coverage and public commentary unfairly blames the cotton industry for a mass fish death event in Menindee during the drought. Scientific reports later find a lack of water and deoxygenation of the river caused the deaths.

2019

Independent federal Senator Patrick launches a calculated political attack on the cotton industry, introducing a Bill (that later fails) to ban the export of cotton from Australia.

2019

Cotton Australia launches a ‘defending the industry’ campaign to protect the industry strongly and robustly from politically motivated attacks.

2019

Cotton Australia launches its Rebuilding Trust Strategy – involving the whole company and industry - in an effort to repair reputational damage incurred by the unfair negative attention the industry received after the Menindee fish deaths.

2019

The International Cotton Advisory Committee Conference is held in Brisbane.

2019

97% of growers adopt the industry-recommended thresholds for pest management.

2019

Cotton Australia and CRDC launch the Australian Cotton Sustainability Report 2019, with a focus on eight priority areas – water, carbon, biodiversity, pesticides, quality of work life (safety, diversity, training), wellbeing and social capital, efficiency, and profitability.

2020

The first Cotton Open House event is held in Sydney, bringing together stakeholders and critics of the industry to learn about cotton.

2020

Cotton Australia launches its 360-degree virtual reality video. The video is used as an immersive educational resource and industry trust-building tool.

2020

Cotton Australia joins with Country Road and Landcare Australia to form a partnership with the cotton industry to improve biodiversity on cotton farms called The Country Road Biodiversity Project.

2020

China introduces a ban on its import of Australian cotton, leaving the Australian industry to find new export partners.

2020

The cotton industry’s Sustainability framework: Paddock, People, Planet is launched. A total of 365 stakeholders provide feedback on the Australian cotton industry’s draft sustainability targets during consultation.

2020

The COVID-19 pandemic hits, impacting all business sectors, including cotton.

2020

Analysis of available water use data shows the cotton industry almost halved the amount of water needed to grow a bale of cotton since 1996.

2021

Cotton Australia continues to adapt to the digital age, with a significant acceleration in the organisation’s digital audience growth. The cumulative audience for the organisation’s social media and website reached 182,000 people.

2021

A new and updated Cotton Education Kit is launched to better inform teachers and students about the Australian cotton industry. The Cotton Australia education program has been running successfully for more than a decade.

2021

CRDC, Cotton Australia and the Sustainability Working Group form the Australian Cotton Sustainability Reference Group, bringing together a group of experts for genuine stakeholder engagement and feedback.

2021

Construction begins on a new gin near Katherine, Northern Territory – the first of its kind in the territory.

2021

Cotton production in northern Australia in 2021/22 almost doubled from the previous year.

2021

A ground-breaking trial tests whether shredded cotton products could offer benefits to soil health and a scalable solution to textile waste.

2022

Cotton Australia is finally able to use its virtual reality video featuring a cotton growing family at the Sydney Royal Easter Show (the resource was prepared for 2020, but the pandemic prevented its use).

2022

The Australian cotton industry’s 4th Environmental Audit process begins, with Cotton Australia and CRDC overseeing the project.

2022

Heavy rain and floods replenishes water supplies and increases allocations to growers, leading to the second-best cotton crop on record.

2022

It is anticipated Australia will produce more than one million bales of BCI cotton (generating an estimated $5 million-plus for BCI growers).

2022

Bayer offers canopy temperature sensors and soil moisture probes to support BCI growers.