To everyone in the onion industry, we extend the heartiest of Happy New Year wishes. Our spirits are high as we enter into 2017, buoyed by optimism for the economy and faith in the Almighty.
Yes, lots of folks will be glad to see 2016 in the rearview mirror, but before we bid it farewell, we thought a look back at some of the biggest stories on OnionBusiness.com might make for interesting conversation.
Here, then, is the Year in Review.
We launched our popular Millennial Trailblazers series with a profile of Tiffany Cruickshank, transportation manager and sales/marketing assistant at Snake River Produce in Nyssa, OR. January also saw FSMA transportation updates, news about the Vidalia Onion Committee’s online health message and a look at social media trends that directly affect onion marketing.
February’s news included the announcement of SCS Global Services Sustainably Grown certification for Yerington, NV-based Peri and Sons Farms and the positive customer response. We also had reports from Theresa Yoshioka, International Trade Manager with the Oregon Department of Agriculture, about both the Asian Chef Challenge and the 2016 FOODEX in Japan; Theresa provided big onions from Oregon to the delight of the chefs. We profiled onion vet Dale DeBerry of AllVeg in Bourne, TX, and announced growers Reid Saito and Ron Mio as the 2016 inductees into the Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee’s Hall of Fame. Sadly, we lost two respected members of the onion industry in February as well – John Starr, grower for Central Produce Distributors in Payette, ID, and Kurt Schweitzer, president/CEO of Keystone Marketing in New Castle, PA.
March was another busy month, starting with Kevin Stanger moving into the president’s chair at Wada Farms in Idaho Falls. We looked at the ANTAD Expo in Mexico, and we profiled Calandri SonRise Farms in the Antelope Valley of California. FSMA was looked at… again… and we featured the onion peeler from M&P Engineering. Also in the world of technological advancements, OnionBusiness.com debuted its drone coverage, with OB’s own Sherise Jones at the controls. Paradigm Fresh of Denver/Fort Collins celebrated the grand opening of its Denver facility.
Ryan Fagerberg of Fagerberg Produce/Fagerberg Farms in Eaton, CO, was our Millennial Trailblazer profile in April, and Western Onions in Camarillo, CA, was a featured grower/shipper. We took a look at the newly organized Columbia Basin Onion Research Committee, which filed for its non-profit status in Washington to serve that state’s onion growers as well as Oregon growers who are not included in the Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee marketing order. In advance of the PMA Foodservice show in Monterey, we profiled Maria Lopez of Pajaro Valley Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Distributing in Watsonville, CA, and her participation in the three-day Tour de Fresh cycling fundraiser that finished at the Foodservice show.
Gills Onions was profiled in May, and our Millennial Trailblazer was Geoffrey Cutler of Pennsylvania’s Phillip G. Ball Company and Race-West. We also had pre-event stories for the NOA Summer Convention in Niagara Falls, United Fresh in Chicago, Idaho F&V Convention in McCall, ID, and PMA Foodservice in Monterey. The international trips organized by National Onion Association, Executive Vice President Wayne Mininger were featured, and GlobalGAP was explained. And we also shared news from the Vidalia Onion Committee’s and its celebrity chefs Whitney Miller and Curtis Stone.
We took a long look at the new crop of onions coming out of California’s Central Valley with photos from Robert Bell of Western Onions (a huge contributor to our photo/video presentations), and we profiled Cameron Skeen, a member of Murakami Produces’ Operations and Business Development team in Ontario, OR, along with Colorado farming icon Bob Sakata. Industrywide, we discussed the expansion of the Panama Canal and some possible effects. Also pertaining to transportation, we covered the early prospects of a Railex hub in the Treasure Valley with a story on of a group of non-government and government individuals that examined an intermodal transportation hub proposed to service the Ontario/Nyssa/Vale area of Eastern Oregon. Weatherwise, we examined El Niño’s effects in drought-hit areas. And following up on the Idaho-Oregon F&V conference, we featured Troy McClain, finalist in Season I of President-Elect Donald Trump’s reality TV show the Apprentice and keynote speaker at the McCall I-O F&V event.
The industry remembered two beloved members in July, Edward Gurda of Middleton, NY, and Charles Hanline of Ohio. Highlights of the NOA Convention in Niagara Falls were covered, and we featured Potandon Produce in our pre-PMA Foodservice coverage. We also covered A. Gurda Produce in Pine Island, NY, and its expansion in organics. And we were busy at the various shows taking place that month, with news being gathered.
August rocked as a month for onion news, with extensive coverage for the PMA Foodservice show. We also profiled Mackenzie Mills of River Point Farms as our Millennial Trailblazer and announced Jon Meyer’s move to Market Brothers with an office in Michigan. Dallas Jensen joined the Champion Produce Sales staff in Parma, ID, and Minkus Family Farms provided us with a great video of its onions in New Hampton, NY. Ponderosa Partners in Center, CO, showed off its first commercial crop of onions. Central California ag wrestled with EPA air quality regs, and we published a two-part series on the future of transportation, including driverless trucks. We also looked at seed technology from Germains. Typhoons were devastating Japan’s onion crop, and here at home six USDA offices around the country closed Aug. 30 after receiving anonymous email threats of an undisclosed nature. OnionBusiness.com had its video debut of “The Slice,” profiling Murakami Produce in Ontario, OR.
More on FSMA (and you can be sure we’ll bring even more in 2017) in September, along with an update on the ProduceGAP Harmonized Standards introduced by United Fresh. In that same research vein, we provided a look at genetically modified onions as explained by Bob Simerly, chairman of the National Onion Association Environmental Committee. For human interest, we featured that slice of paradise known as Horse Heaven, and we also announced our first edition of OnionBusiness InPrint that came out in October. An interview with Maureen Torrey was filled with great info, and we looked ahead to the PMA Fresh Summit and booth plans for some of our onion friends, including Potandon Produce. We also looked at the new bagging options from Fox Solutions. The IEO season was ramping up with its Broker Incentive Program getting traction, and Dan Borer at Keystone Fruit gave us the lowdown on Peruvian sweets. Oh, and Bayer bought Monsanto.
Montreal’s Fresh on Board Inc. produce brokerage founder Daniel Jusseaume, who died in late September, was mourned by the industry. After the United States ceded oversight of the Internet, cybersecurity became a hot topic for several weeks. A rather astounding report from the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Majority Staff, told us that the EPA defines furrows as “mini mountain ranges” and could therefore impose wetland permit requirements. Stay tuned, because this promises to be even more interesting in the months to come. The bankruptcy of Hanjin Shipping Co., a South Korean container line, caused some backups in exports, and other industries are also feeling the impact of the situation. The winter National Onion Association/National Allium Research Conference was previewed before its early December staging in Savannah, GA, and an overview of the October PMA Fresh Summit in Orlando was provided by Sherise Jones, who repped OnionBusiness.
November already? In case you missed it, Donald Trump’s bid for the White House was successful. Colorado was in the news with onion trials and a water summit. Don Ed Holmes of The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, was profiled; and we reported on the increased square footage at Telesis Onion Co. in Five Points, CA, for 2017. During her trip to the 30th Annual Pacific Northwest Vegetable Association’s Conference in Kennewick, WA, Sherise Jones had the opportunity to visit with The Nov. While at the Pacific Northwest Vegetable Growers Assn. Conference in Kennewick WA, Sherise Jones met with Mark Rosenheim, area sales manager for Tolsma Storage Technology’s Boise office, and we brought you conference highlights and an update on Tolsma.
Like the rest of the world, OnionBusiness was busy busy busy during December. We profiled Aries Haygood of M&T Farms Inc. in Lyons, GA, as holiday Millennial Trailblazer, and we also announced the hiring of Angela in the sales/marketing department at Owyhee Produce in Nyssa, OR. A new website for Salinas-based American Takii was announced, and we covered the evolution of, Netherlands-based ERCmachinery to become global and to rebrand as Eqraft. Also profiled were Enza Zaden in Salinas and Canadian-founded NutriAg Ltd., with Andy Schenk representing its Boise office. We had a great interview with new NOA President Doug Stanley, and we chatted with Bill Trask of Baker Packing in Ontario, OR, about the report he presented to the Idaho Department of Agriculture Food Safety Modernization Act Advisory Committee on the Northwest Farm Tour he participated in with members of state and national FDA officials. The takeaway from the tour was how diverse U.S. agriculture is and though regulations should be applied equally, they ought not be “cookie cutter.” One of our very favorite story themes of 2016 was that of caring heart shown by the onion industry, and for our Christmas week edition of OnionBusiness, we featured Snake River Produce, Schuman Produce and Peri and Sons Farms, all of which exemplify the true Christmas Spirit.
And now… on to 2017. Let’s make history!