America’s cotton shortage might take the shirt off your back

Intense drought has forced cotton farmers to abandon millions of acres that have produced so little cotton that they are no longer worth harvesting, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Farmers will harvest an estimated 7.13 million acres, abandoning approximately 5.35 million acres due to an ongoing drought hammering southern U.S. states, representing an estimated abandonment rate of 42.87%, according to the National Cotton Council of America, who based their analysis on U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data. This represents the smallest harvest by area since 1868, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The economic impacts of a cotton shortage are felt in a variety of industries, with the ginning, warehousing, and milling industries that process cotton all being the most immediately affected, the WSJ reported. Cotton also accounts for 90% of the materials in denim goods, such as jeans, representing about 20% of the cost to make a pair of Levi jeans CNBC reported.

The cost of apparel was up 5.1% year-on-year in July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. – READ MORE