USDA Says Farmers Can Use Crop Loss Insurance After Tunnel Collapse

Aug 23, 2019

Credit United States Department of Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced farmers who lost crops due to the irrigation tunnel collapse in eastern Wyoming are able to use their crop insurance policies.

The USDA determined the July 17 irrigation tunnel collapse was caused by weather-related events, and thus farmers are entitled to use their crop loss insurance policies.

"USDA has worked with local, state, and federal partners over the past month as they investigated the cause of the Ft. Laramie irrigation tunnel failure, which affected many Nebraska and Wyoming farmers," said USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation, Bill Northey in a statement.

The USDA said the area received 200 to 300 percent above normal precipitation in the past year prior to the tunnel's collapse.

The tunnel served more than 100,000 acres of cropland in Eastern Wyoming and Western Nebraska.

The announcement comes after Wyoming and Nebraska lawmakers sent a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue asking him to approve the insurance protections.

Wyoming Senator John Barrasso said the USDA had to determine the collapse was caused by a natural disaster before the crop insurance would kick in.

"There are massive losses as a result of this irrigation collapse of the tunnel and we want to make sure that those with crop insurance and they have for this purpose will have the coverage that they needed," Barrasso said.

Though, Barrasso added, there's still work to be done.

"This doesn't solve all of the problems, doesn't fix everything, but it does provide much needed relief to members of the Goshen Irrigation District community in their time of this natural disaster," he said.

Barrasso said he will continue to work with Gov. Mark Gordon and the local community to ensure they have the resources they need to reconstruct the tunnel.

A statement from the USDA said affected farmers should reach out to their agents to file a claim.