Last week Fulton County Superior Court Judge Judge Cynthia Wright ruled state law gives Black the authority to determine packing rules, such as the materials or containers that can be used in packaging, but not decide when the onions can be shipped.
Monday Commissioner Gary W. Black issued a statement expressing his disappointment in the ruling regarding the Vidalia onion pack date. He said the Attorney General's office has filed an appeal. Black said he believes the packing rule “does not in any way conflict with the provisions of the Vidalia Onion Act.” He said it is the sole responsibility of the Commissioner to protect the integrity of the Vidalia onion trademark, a trademark registered to the Georgia Department of Agriculture and the Commissioner is authorized to establish rules in order to protect this trademark. “The Georgia Department of Agriculture has worked with the Vidalia onion industry for 18 months to establish a pack date and the majority of the growers are in favor of this rule,” Black said.
Delbert Bland, owner of Bland Farms in Glennville, said Wright's ruling licensed Vidalia Sweet Onion growers will be able to continue shipping Vidalia Sweet Onions on their traditional timetable. “Mother Nature will decide when our Vidalia SweetOnions are ready to ship, not an arbitrary date on the calendar.”
Bland said he is pleased with the way this year's Vidalia Sweet Onion crop is shaping up. He said it looks great and he feels good about it. The quality looks like it could be excellent and it appears there will be promotable quantities available.