There’s a fight brewing in Madison County between organic farmers and the local power utility, French Broad Electrical Member Corporation. FBEMC currently provides service to Madison County, as well as Buncombe County, Yancey County and Mitchell County in North Carolina. Madison County is know for it’s graceful mountains, but it’s also home to nutrient rich soil. It is home to 1500 small family farms, with also being home to the highest numbers of organic farms in North Carolina.
Recently the FBEMC has started to administer two herbicides to maintain their “right of ways”, the area beneath their power lines. The herbicides are glyphosate based Rodeo and Polaris. By reading the material safety data sheets (MSDS) for each of these (Rodeo and Polaris) you would think these chemicals are harmless and safe to spray around fruits, vegetables, and water supplies. But further reading shows that ingestion can cause acute poisoning, kills human cells, and birth defects. Even the New York State attorney general has slapped the wrists of Monsanto for false advertising of glyphosate as “safe and environmentally friendly” Because of these effects, folks have been turning to organic farming to reduce their exposure to such herbicides. Organic farmers are required by the National Organic Program to be free from certain synthetic substances, with Rodeo and Polaris included. And Madison County is home to some of these organic farms.
Madison County is also home to the French Broad River watershed. Glyphosate based herbicides are known to be washed into creeks and streams, to be found in our drinking water sources. Currently, the French Broad River services over 1 million people with drinking water.
We are demanding is that FBEMC halts the use of herbicides near farms and water sources. Using herbicides to control plant growth in their right of way may be economically viable to the utility, but it will do so at the costs of organic farmers losing their certifications. This also doesn’t include the cost of health effects from indirect ingestion.
You can join the fight by contacting FBEMC directly and demand that they immediately halt the use of herbicides near farms and waterways. Viable solutions are to either use mechanical means of maintaining their right of ways, or by providing an exception to farmers. Greg Fowler is the district manager for FBEMC in Madison County. His contact information is as follows:
If the French Broad Electric Membership Corporation is true to it’s mission of serving it’s members in Madison County, then they will also protect it’s most vital resources: it’s land and it’s water.