2. February 2021 / James Johnson: Impact of COVID-19 on the US Cotton Industry

How has the COVID-19 pandemic shaped or impacted the US American cotton business and marketing?

James Johnson, Commodity Analyst, USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, Washington, D.C., USA

“Cotton farmers are facing minor disruptions at the farm level since the pandemic arrived as farmers were beginning to plant. Reports surfaced of pandemic related difficulties in handling the crop after harvest, with ginning running about 20 percent behind the previous year and classing also behind. This leaves merchants more uncertain regarding the availability of cotton for sale or shipment.

Shipment delays have also occurred as ports reduced activities due to pandemic restrictions. Falling mill use disincentivized buyers to fulfil contracts. Problems still exist despite recovering global demand. Strong Asia exports to the United States has recently made containers difficult to obtain.

U.S. mill use in April fell by 90 percent from the previous year. Despite a recent recovery, September use was down 25 percent from the previous year.

The retail sector has experienced the greatest long-term impacts. Several large retail chains have declared bankruptcy, and many are in precarious positions. Online retailers fared better as consumers have increased online shopping.

In closing, the U.S. cotton industry has a long history of boom and bust periods and will survive this crisis.”

Statement from the year-end-issue 2020 of the Bremen Cotton Report 

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