Ag commissioner defends Vidalia onion rule

Georgia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black is defending a rule he tried to put in place regulating the Vidalia Onion harvest.

The packing rule said that Vidalia onion farmers could not harvest or ship their onions until April 21 each year.

On Wednesday, 13WMAZ's Tom George told you about Bland Farms of south Georgia fighting against the rule. They believe Black overstepped his authority.

Last week, the Fulton County Superior Court ruled in favor of the farmer and said the man had the right harvest his onions before April 21 and call them Vidalia onions.

Commissioner Black issued a statement on that ruling that states most onion farmers support the rule.

His statement says:

"We are disappointed in the ruling we received late last week regarding the Vidalia onion pack date. The Attorney General's office filed an appeal on our behalf today. We believe the packing rule does not in anyway conflict with the provisions of the Vidalia Onion Act. Lost in this discussion is 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. Lost in this discussion is that the Commissioner is authorized to establish rules in order to protect this trademark. Lost in this discussion is that 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. We look forward to the consideration of these facts during the appeals process."


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