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U.S. farmers produced about 17 percent of the world’s cotton in 1985, down from about 31 percent in 1960. During the same time, cotton's share of the world textile fiber market dropped from nearly 70 percent to about 50 percent. The United States, China, and the Soviet Union produce about 60 percent of the world's cotton. Although total harvested acreage in the United States dropped by about 33 percent between 1960 and 1985, production dropped by less than 6 percent because of increased yields. Cotton and other natural fibers have faced stiff competition from manmade fibers during the last 25 years. However, demand for cotton and cotton blends, especially, has recently increased. U.S. cotton producers have frequently been plagued by excess production capacity, high stocks, and low product prices. Growth in the U.S. cotton industry will continue to depend heavily on exports, as domestic mill consumption may be constrained by textile imports and competition from manmade fibers. This report describes all components of the U.S. cotton industry, from producers to consumers, and provides a single source of economic and statistical information on cotton.


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