Being a farmer, businessman, and trader for decades, it’s no surprise that Kosuga spent time dealing with lawyers and lawsuits on more than one occasion. In 1973, Kosuga had already been living in and around Pine Island, New York, for years after having lived in Chicago during the 1950s. In that year, an attorney from the neighboring city of Middletown filed a suit against Kosuga and other individuals on charges of libel.
The attorney, Anthony Kelvasa, claimed that Kosuga and the others had sent a dishonest letter to an Appellate-Division Judge in which they asked that Kelvasa be prosecuted on charges of forgery, perjury, and grand larceny. The complex conflict revolved around disagreements involving the ownership of a 250-acre farm near Pine Island called the Merrit Onion Farm.
India’s Very Own Kosuga
Mangesh Varpe, a farmer from the town of Kalamb in the Indian state of Maharashtra, aspires to one day be like Vincent Kosuga. An onion farmer himself, he earns a living by traveling to Mumbai and selling his produce there. He has said that selling onions in markets in the big city has awakened in him a sense of entrepreneurship and a desire to barter and negotiate prices.
“I want my onions to go overseas, and this market will help me achieve my dream of becoming Vince Kosuga,” said Varpe in 2017, “don’t underestimate this powerful vegetable…when it sells, it makes a poor farmer like me very happy”. As far as reaching the commercial heights Kosuga did, Varpe still has a long way to go.
Kosuga Helped a Major Trucking Company Get Started
Carroll Fulmer Logistics is a transportation and logistics business with humble beginnings dating back to 1954, when Carroll Fulmer himself began hauling farm produce to markets in the American South. In 1961, he began transporting vegetables to the East Coast, which is when he met Kosuga. According to Carroll, Kosuga got his attention by throwing an onion to the back of his head.
The two became fast friends and business partners, and Carroll ended up moving his family and most of his business to Pine Island, Kosuga’s hometown. With Kosuga’s help, he founded the Ridge Truck Brokers company, which specialized in long-distance produce delivery. Over time, these ventures became the Carroll Fulmer Logistics Corporation, which these days works with some of America’s largest companies.
Kosuga and Other Farmers Suffered Heavy Crop Losses
In the same year that Kosuga and Siegel were deep into their plans to corner the onion market in Chicago, heavy flooding in and around Kosuga’s hometown caused farmers to lose huge amounts of their crops. Around 70% of the area’s onion harvest was said to be ruined, causing farmers to claim losses of nearly two and half million dollars — a huge sum by 1955 standards and likely a low estimate compared to the total damage done.
The report of the incident by the State Department of Agriculture said that crates that were stacked in the fields after harvesting were damaged as the water was two to five crates high. The flooding occurred in August, just ten days after local farmers had kicked off festivities to celebrate a successful harvest season.
Kosuga’s Farm Was Pictured in the News
When the regional newspaper “The Newburgh News” reported on the summer floods that affected farmers in and around Orange County, New York, it was a picture of Kosuga’s own farm that made the front page on August 24th, 1955. “The onion and celery crops of Vincent Kosuga at Pine Island were inundated when the Wallkill River and Pochuck Creek overflowed their banks,” stated the news article, which also mentioned that other crops affected included carrots, beets, cabbages, and potatoes.
Several government bodies such as the Vegetable Commodity Committee, as well as the U.S Farmer’s Home Administration, worked to declare an agricultural disaster. That kind of declaration gave affected farmers the opportunity to apply for federal loans that helped them gain financial footing after their heavy crop losses.