Melvin Daniels' family has farmed tobacco in Claiborne County since the Revolutionary War, but the family business is now in danger.
"That plant is gone," said Daniels, pointing to a dead tobacco plant on one of his farms. "All this is dead. This is unharvestable. These plants here are all dead."
About 70 acres of Daniels' tobacco crop have died after he alleges contractors with the Powell Valley Electric Cooperative sprayed herbicides underneath nearby power lines that then drifted on to his plants.
"We abide by all of the rules, all the laws, to make sure that we keep that product right where it's supposed to be," said Fred Stokes, owner of US Applicators, the contractor PVEC uses to do the spraying.
Stokes acknowledges that his company did spray within the right-of-way underneath the power lines near Daniels' crops, but says it is very unlikely that any spraying that the company did caused the crops to die.
PREVIOUS: Growing concern over herbicide spraying
Stokes said that he will be in Claiborne County in the coming days to investigate the problem himself.
Daniels says that the 70 acres of dead crops will cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars this year.
Although he says that he uses some of the same chemicals that the power company uses, he says that applying them the wrong way can kill the plants.
"It's not saying that they're using the wrong chemicals," Daniels said. "They're just using them the wrong way."
Daniels alleges that run-off from the spraying or herbicides blowing through the air killed his plants.
He said the spraying is already costing him business.
On Tuesday, Daniels received a letter from the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company stating they would not purchase any of his tobacco that has been sprayed.
"R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company will not purchase any tobacco that has been sprayed with any chemical that is not an approved treatment agent for tobacco. Therefore, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company will not purchase any tobacco from Melvin Daniels that has been sprayed with a non-approved chemical for tobacco," the letter said.
An Insect and Plant Disease Diagnosis report conducted by the UT Extension Institute of Agriculture states, "There was leaf cupping upward as well as leaf yellowing. These symptoms may indicate herbicide injury possibly by Garlon and/or Milestone."
Two universities are conducting tests on the tissue of the plants that will help determine what killed the crops.