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Irrigation Emergency

In this 2012 file photo, Jim Wilson walks past sections of irrigation pipe on his ranch near Glendo, Wyo. The ranch gets water from Horseshoe Creek, with a hand-dug well reserved for emergencies. In nearby Goshen County, about 150 square miles of cropland is without irrigation after a canal tunnel collapsed July 17.  Farmers in Wyoming and Nebraska have been affected by an irrigation system failure.

Nebraska and Wyoming members of Congress on Thursday called upon the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide crop insurance protection for ag producers impacted by the collapse of a vital irrigation tunnel in July.

"The water disruption has affected approximately 107,000 acres of corn, sugar beets, dry edible beans and alfalfa crops," the legislators wrote Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

Before its collapse, the Gering-Ft. Laramie-Goshen irrigation canal tunnel -- which was built in 1910 -- transported water to land in western Nebraska and Wyoming.

The request seeks a USDA Risk Management Agency evaluation and determination that the disaster qualifies as an insurable event.

"This should be pretty simple," Sen. Ben Sasse said. 

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"This is a qualifying event to be covered by crop insurance and Nebraskans are suffering right now.

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"A lot of folks will go bankrupt unless the Risk Management Agency does what's right."

Sen. Deb Fischer and Rep. Adrian Smith also signed the request, which noted that "the lack of irrigation water and adequate supplemental rainfall has taken a serious toll on the planted areas, crop yields and crop quality."

Perdue will be in Nebraska Friday for an appearance at the State Fair in Grand Island.  

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSDon.

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