Vidalia onion farmer's lawsuit against Ga. agriculture commissioner argued in appeals court

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ATLANTA — A bitter fight over Georgia's famed sweet onions is winding its way through the state's legal system.

The Georgia Court of Appeals on Wednesday heard arguments in a 2013 lawsuit by Glennville Vidalia onion farmer Delbert Bland. He's fighting a state regulation that prohibits Vidalia onions from being packaged for shipping before the last full week in April.

State Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black has said other farmers asked for the regulation to protect the quality of Georgia's $150 million Vidalia onion crop after consumers complained unripe onions were being sold in stores.

Bland says the commissioner overstepped his bounds. A Fulton County Superior Court judge agreed with the farmer when she struck down the rule last March. Black appealed the lower court's decision.

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