USDA Announces Irrigation Tunnel Collapse Will Be Covered Under Crop Insurance

Aug. 23, 2019, 4:43 p.m. ·

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A USDA representative announced at the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island Friday that farmers will be able to collect insurance for crop losses due to the Gering-Ft. Laramie-Goshen irrigation tunnel collapse in July.

Today is a good day for Robert Bush, a corn and soybean farmer from Scotts Bluff County. He says the announcement comes at a crucial time for producers back home.

“Oh, I’m just elated, it’s unbelievable!" Busch said. "One of the biggest concerns is that crop insurance was not gonna cover this. This is unbelievably good news!"

From left: retired farmer Bob Busch, Nebraska Farm Bureau president Steve Nelson, and Nebraska Cattlemen President Mike Drinnin. (Becca Costello, NET News)

In a statement, the USDA confirmed its Risk Management Agency has determined the collapse was caused by an unusually wet spring. The crisis has affected over 100,000 acres of cropland and could result in as much as $89 million in crop losses.

Many of those farmers affected are in western Nebraska. Senator Deb Fischer welcomes the good news, but says much more work lies ahead to get farmers back on track.

"I think we’re just at the beginning of what’s going to be needed to address this disaster that keeps reoccurring,” Fischer said.

Repairs are still underway at the tunnel, where crews are working around the clock in the hopes of finishing temporary repairs by September 1.