The Vidalia Onion Committee at its annual industry banquet February 2nd announced the 2007 award recipients for Grower of the Year and Hall of Fame.
This year’s awards ceremony was uniquely poignant, as the awards went to a father-son duo that has had significant impact on the Vidalia industry. Mr. Rodney “R.T.” Stanley, Jr., was awarded 2007 Grower of the Year and his father, Rodney Taylor Stanley, Sr., was posthumously inducted into the industry Hall of Fame. Accepting the award was his wife, Louise Stanley. The Stanleys farm and reside in Toombs County, Georgia, the location of the City of Vidalia and one of the top two onion-producing counties in the Vidalia growing region.
R.T. and Rodney Stanley farmed Vidalia onions together in the 1980s, the pivotal period when Georgia’s now-famous sweet onion began to receive widespread recognition. This decision to turn away from a more traditional row crop—tobacco—and gamble on the fledging onion market was one that would dramatically change the Stanleys’ farming operation and go on to boost the crop’s standing as the pioneer of the sweet onion category.
R.T. has risen to become one of the most recognizable ambassadors for Vidalia onions. He was among the core group of growers who fought to attain legal status for the onion, clearly defining the growing area, establishing a protective certification for the name, and getting Vidalias named Georgia’s official state vegetable. Moreover, R.T. was among the growers who fought to gain a federal marketing order to further protect the name and thus the value
of Vidalia onions.
Robert Meyer, long-standing Director of Markets for the Georgia Department of Agriculture, was also recognized at the banquet. Meyer dedicated the bulk of his career to the Vidalia onion, fighting against improprieties of the Vidalia name. Meyer has been an unremitting source of technical information for the industry on matters such as certification mark requirements, grading standards, and grower registration. Meyer retired at the end of 2007.
The Grower of the Year award recognizes overall achievement and success as a Vidalia“ Onion producer with an emphasis on quality production and compliance with the Marketing Order.
1. Is a registered Vidalia® Onion grower
2. Is not a current member of the Committee
3. Has submitted reports and payments in a timely manner
4. Has had no or few complaints to the Committee Office
5. Conforms to the standards set forth in the Order
6. Enhances & supports brand recognition
The Vidalia® Onion Hall of Fame award honors a person who has significantly and positively impacted the Vidalia® Onion industry.
1. Protecting & promoting the Vidalia® Onion name
2. Protecting & promoting the quality of the Vidalia® Onion
3. Advertising the Vidalia® Onion
4. Using creative selling methods for Vidalia® Onions
5. Promoting research & growth development of the Vidalia® Onion
6. Demonstrating dedication to the success of the Vidalia® brand and the industry as a whole