Mar 9, 2023
Bob Stafford retires from Vidalia Onion Committee

Bob Stafford has retired from the Vidalia Onion Committee (VOC) after almost three decades of serving the growers of the famous sweet onion.

He joined the committee as compliance officer in 1994 and became its executive director in 2017. In 2009, was inducted into the Vidalia Onion Hall of Fame. He officially retired on Jan. 1 and the committee is conducting a search to fill the executive director position.

“Over the course of my career working with the committee, my fondest of times have been with the Vidalia onion growers,” Stafford said in a news release. “I joined the VOC in 1994, working under a 10-day timeframe on the compliance plan, and 29 years later, I’m finishing up with them now. I’ve been very proud to have a hand in the Vidalia onion trademark and of all the advancement we’ve made on our research and promotion to produce a quality sweet Vidalia onion that consumers seek out.”

As compliance officer, he worked with VOC members on audits, along with product labeling and other rules and regulations to maintain the strength of the Vidalia onion trademark. In his time conducting audits, Stafford saw to the needs of farmers with the experience to provide support. He also spent much of his time keeping a good rapport with consumers, often engaging with them directly on their experiences with Vidalia onions.

Bob Stafford (back) with Vidalia growers Troy Bland and R.T. Stanley.

He also spearheaded efforts to distinguish which farm each Vidalia onion comes from on the label. Stafford also worked to implement a royalty fee for including Vidalia onions in processed foods, ensuring funds are used for Vidalia onion trademark protection and promotion.

Much of Stafford’s work has been in conjunction with his role as director of the Vidalia Onion Business Council, which he joined in the late 1990s. The council, which manages the federal marketing order for Vidalia onions, works with the Georgia Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Agriculture to oversee the grower assessments that promote the onions. Stafford remains a consultant of the Vidalia Onion Business Council until the position is filled.

“Bob’s dedication to the Vidalia onion industry has been invaluable to our industry,” Cliff Riner, chairman of the VOC, said in the release. “He has been a major driver for improving our market and our brand’s quality through his support of research, promotion and unifying the industry. Bob worked behind the scenes all for the glory of the Vidalia onion and the growers, not his own.  We are extremely grateful for his service and his family’s commitment to our industry.”

Those who are interested in the position can learn more and apply here.

“I’ve worked in many areas of the eastern part of the country, and I’ve never seen a group work as closely together as Vidalia onion farmers do,” Stafford said in the release. “It’s just a very special, unique situation to be part of and I’ve been so happy with the program we’ve put together.”

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