Crop losses because of the collapse of the irrigation tunnel that serves ag producers in Wyoming and the Nebraska Panhandle will be covered by crop insurance protection, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Friday.

The decision by the USDA's Risk Management Agency had been sought by members of Congress from Nebraska and Wyoming.

"Because of this decision, Nebraska ag producers submitting claims for production and prevented planting losses will have more certainty about how this will be treated under their crop insurance policies," Sen. Deb Fischer said.

"The USDA did the right thing by covering this loss and preventing a bunch of bankruptcies in the Panhandle," Sen. Ben Sasse said.

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"Our farmers have been put through the ringer and still have a long way to go, but this is a huge relief for Nebraska agriculture," he said.

Fischer, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Sasse joined with Rep. Adrian Smith and Wyoming members of Congress in requesting the USDA action.

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The Gering-Fort Laramie-Goshen irrigation tunnel, which collapsed in July, transported water to 54,000 acres in Nebraska.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue made Friday's announcement, determining that the collapse was caused by unusually high precipitation, a natural and insurable event, in response to a Thursday letter from the lawmakers.

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

On Twitter @LJSDon.


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