Ag News

R.T. Stanley inducted into Vidalia Onion Hall of Fame

Former Toombs County Farm Bureau President R.T. Stanley Jr. was inducted to the Vidalia Onion Hall of Fame on Feb. 10 during the Vidalia Onion Banquet and Awards Ceremony, according to

Stanley, the retired president of Vidalia-based Stanley Farms, was born in 1945. Stanley served as president of Toombs County Farm Bureau from 1980 to 2012.

He began farming as a sharecropper in 1964. In 1975, Stanley’s farm began growing five acres of Vidalia onions. In 2016 Stanley Farms merged with Coggins Farm and Produce Inc. of Lake Park to form Generation Farms. “This award means so much to me,” Stanley said. “Like when my dad received it, I don’t know what to say except thank you. I am proud to be where I am today. So many good things have happened to me.”

Stanley was lauded for helping form the Vidalia Onion Committee, which administers the onions’ federal marketing order. In 1988, Stanley was one of a small group of growers who traveled to Washington, D.C., to persuade the U.S. Department of Agriculture to form the committee.

Stanley’s father,  R.T. Stanley Sr., was inducted into the hall of fame in 2007.

During the Feb. 10 Vidalia Onion Banquet and Awards Ceremony, the industry also recognized Omar Cruz, the longtime agronomist and director of production for Bland Farms LLC, headquartered in Glennville by naming him Grower of the Year.

In 2002, Cruz, who also grows his own onions marketed through Bland Farms, began working in the Vidalia onion industry at Del Monte Fresh Produce NA Inc.’s McRae sweet onion operation, where he was chief agronomist.

In 2004, he joined Bland and was close friends with early sweet onion grower Raymond Bland, Bland Farms’ co-founder and father of Delbert Bland, the current president of Bland Farms.