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Locals demand spraying notice

By Meg Dickens
Staff Writer

Over the last few months, local farmers, beekeepers, and other concerned citizens have spoken out about Mountain Electric Cooperative’s herbicide use on member land. These complaints reportedly brought officials from the TDA (Tennessee Department of Agriculture) to assess the situation that allegedly found no fault. Despite the subject, the main complaint does not revolve around said chemicals. Members are most displeased by what several have called a “lack of notice.”
As a rural area, many locals
supplement or earn their income from farming. Spraying herbicides in close quarters of these products could cause harm to that income. Organic produce that makes contact through run-off or direct spraying of these chemicals would lose value by losing its organic status. Without notice, farmers may not have the area marked off or protected from this possibility. At the time of this article, there are no known significant losses reported, but some members say that testing is still ongoing.
Legally, Mountain Electric does have the right to spray, as representatives explained to The Tomahawk in a previous interview. Each member must sign a contract before gaining service, and Item 7 states that the organization “may cut, trim, treat by chemical means, or otherwise control or remove trees, shrubbery, brush, or other vegetation on the property of the Applicant.” The organization also offers a lesser-known opt-out option for those who do not want this done on their property. This leaves the financial responsibility of keeping lines clear to the member
and reportedly comes with a fee for signs marking the area as part of the No Spray List.
In the end, it all boils down to customer service. Customers want better notification of actions taken on their land and their options to stop it. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, forums such as the annual member meeting were unavailable due to cancellations. Something as simple as a mail notification announcing when officials decide to spray may be enough to quell the complaints.
Spraying happens approximately every three to five years. Any members that would like to opt-out of herbicide spraying during the next cycle should contact Mountain Electric about their available options. For more information about Mountain Electric, call (423) 727-1800 or view mountainelectric.com.