Bland Farms fighting mandatory date for Vidalias - The Packer

Bland Farms fighting mandatory date for Vidalias

11/07/2013 05:32:00 PM
Coral Beach

Coral BeachDelbert Bland Bland Farms, a large grower-shipper of Vidalia onions, is challenging the Georgia Agricultural Commissioner’s mandatory uniform start date for shipping the sweet onions.

Delbert Bland, president of Bland Farms LLC, Glennville, Ga., said he wants a judge to decide whether the mandate is legal. He said a number of growers have similar feelings, but he didn’t want to wait for them, so he filed suit in Circuit Court in Atlanta with his company as the sole plaintiff.

“I’m 100% behind anything to improve and ensure the quality of our Vidalia onions,” Bland said Nov. 7.

“But I’m totally opposed to any mandatory start dates for anything. You can’t say a crop is going to be ready on the same day every year.”

In October, agriculture commissioner Gary Black announced the rule setting the Monday of the last full week of April as the beginning of Vidalia shipping every year. Traditionally, the commissioner has set the date each spring after consulting with the growers, the Vidalia Onion Committee and the Vidalia Onion Business Council.

Growers whose onions were ready for harvest before the start date could seek pay for inspections and begin shipping early under the old system.

Before announcing the new rule, the commissioner met with growers and others, but Bland said the meeting he attended had a split crowd.

“About half the people thought it could be handled with more stringent inspections for those who wanted to ship early,” Bland said. “That would be OK with me.”

Bland said the area where Vidalia onions are grown spans about 100 miles. He said everyone wants to be first to market, but often the growers in the southern areas have onions ready before those further north.

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St. Louis  |  November, 08, 2013 at 07:27 AM

The damage has already been done to the Vidalia name. The only people that care about Vidalia onions anymore are retailers. It barely even registers with consumers anymore.

georgia  |  November, 08, 2013 at 08:55 AM

The Vidalia name is alive and well Jack. You can look at consumption patterns of sweet onions on a line graph and see exactly where Vidalia is in season compared to fake sweets grown in the west. Peruvians are growing as well. The highest consumption patterns are in the East, however it has grown in recognition in central states over the last decade. The quality that came to market this year was not that good though.

Marvin Greenberg    
Toronto, ON, Canada  |  November, 08, 2013 at 09:32 AM

Maintaining the quality and the uniqueness of the Vidella Brand is essential. As a foodservice consultant I introduce the product to as many people as I can, They are a wonderful gift and I do all I can to get the Red and Spanish Onions out of the Hamburger Chains. Sweet Stuff!

Cincinnati, OH  |  November, 08, 2013 at 12:02 PM

It puzzles me how a mandate is rational on a product something Mother Nature has so much influence over.

George Boyhan    
University of Georgia, Athens, GA  |  November, 08, 2013 at 02:48 PM

Setting an opening date is not constructive in assuring onion quality. Every year will be different with early varieties in some years ready as early as the end of March. In fact late maturing onions are more problematic because of warm weather bacterial diseases. If the industry is interested in improving market share and lowering costs, they should open the marketing order for white and red sweet onions. This would open markets in the food industry where red onions are used extensively and in Mexico where they consume primarily white onions. They should consider mechanizing transplanting, using fertilizer more efficiently, and reducing their use of pesticides. They have been fighting over an opening date for over 15 years. Let the market determine the quality. If a grower wants to put a poor product on the market, they won't be around for very long.

doris stockel    
So.Florida  |  January, 13, 2014 at 12:33 PM

O M G My daughter just brought me a "present": a bag of BLANDS FARM Vidalia Onions. WHAT MONTH IS THIS? She's not as familiar as she should be: it's JANUARY. November ends the season. GUESS WHERE THEY ARE FROM! P E R U , yes Peru

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