The World Has Entirely Too Much Cotton

Farmers could really use a mass run on T-shirts right about now
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 16, 2015 7:00 PM CST
The World Has Entirely Too Much Cotton

Cotton may be the fabric of our lives, but what happens we have way too much of it? Bloomberg reports there is currently enough cotton sitting in warehouses around the world to make 17 T-shirts for every person on Earth. And that's bad news for cotton producers and investors alike. According to Fibre2Fashion, government intervention over the past few years caused production of cotton to skyrocket. This year will see the second largest inventory of cotton ever, with 35% more of the product than its 10-year average, Bloomberg reports. Coupled with increased production is a shrinking demand for cotton, partly due to more consumers choosing synthetic fibers. China—which had been the world's biggest user of cotton—cut its import of the product by 30%

This has all added up to cotton being at its lowest price in five years, the AP reports. At that price, most North American farmers will lose money. It's gotten so bad that Alabama's governor applied for disaster assistance to help cotton farmers last month. "Cotton's an interesting animal," one farmer says. "It's been in a particular sort of slump the last couple of years. It will rebound." Others aren't so sure. "To get excited about the cotton market, we will need to see either a weather event or something else that really changes the Northern Hemisphere producers’ mind about growing cotton," one commodities expert tells Bloomberg. In the meantime, those warehouses full of cotton likely to keep the price from rising anytime soon. (Read more cotton stories.)

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