Irrigation Tunnel Collapse Found to be an Insurable Event

Workers examine the site of the smaller of the two tunnel collapses.
Figure 1. Workers examine the site of the smaller of the two tunnel collapses. This week it was determined that the resulting loss of canal irrigation to growers in eastern Wyoming and western Nebraska was an insurable event.

Irrigation Tunnel Collapse Found to be an Insurable Event

Today, growers and nearby communities breathed a sigh of relief as the USDA Risk Management Agency announced that it had "concluded that the 2019 collapse of the Goshen/Gering-Ft. Laramie Canal tunnel was due to failure of irrigation water supply resulting from an insurable cause of loss."

Governor Pete Ricketts and Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) Director Steve Wellman thanked US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and the Risk Management Agency for the determination of an insurable event for those affected by the collapse of an irrigation tunnel near Fort Laramie. The tunnel collapsed July 17 cutting off irrigation to more than 100,000 acres of farmland in Nebraska and Wyoming at a crucial time during the growing season.

USDA Risk Management Agency Memo regarding insurability

Government representatives from Wyoming and Nebraska, including US and state senators and congressional representatives, had sought federal loan and other support for the repairs as well as for the growers affected by the losses. An earlier CropWatch story had encouraged farmers in the affected area "to continue to manage their crop as if water will return to the canal and they will be covered by their crop insurance policy."

“The canal collapse has been a devastating event for our farm families in the Panhandle,” said Gov. Ricketts.  “Thank you to Secretary Perdue and USDA for working to make this an insurable events. This will help impacted farm families as they work to get back on their feet.”

“Farmers have already faced many hardships this past year,” said Director Wellman. “Hopefully this decision takes some stress off the farmers. Secretary Perdue knows that it’s not just the farmers who lose in situations like this, but the loss of crops ripples through local economies, too. Secretary Perdue’s announcement on this situation creates a positive impact on those affected and on our communities, as well.” 

Crews are still working to clear debris and make repairs to restore water to the irrigation tunnel canal.

Find further information on the collapse and resources for families affected by the collapse at go.unl.edu/canal and in CropWatch at .