Lincoln, Neb. — On July 17, 2019, Tunnel No. 2 collapsed on the Goshen / Gering-Ft Laramie irrigation canal, leaving 107,000 acres of farmland without water for much of the 2019 growing season. Although repairs to the collapsed tunnel and two other tunnels have been made, challenges remain for irrigators relying on this system.
The metal “ribs” installed to support the tunnels along the canal have reduced the water delivery capacity of the system to 75 percent. This reduction in water capacity raises many questions for farmers and landowners regarding crop insurance coverage for the upcoming 2021 crop year.
Crop insurance is a federal program administered by the USDA Risk Management Agency. All crop insurance policies, regardless of the crop insurance agent, are subject to the same provisions. Crop Insurance provides protection against “unavoidable, naturally occurring events”.
Farmers along the Goshen / Gering-Ft Laramie canal were covered for production losses in 2019. In some cases, farmers could also have filed a claim against the prevented planting portion of their policy for the 2020 growing season. For producers who had a policy in both 2019 and 2020, the insurance period for a 2020 prevented-planting loss started on March 15, 2019 (prior year sales closing date).
However, the insurance period for a 2021 prevented planting loss only extends back to March 15, 2020, so the reduced flow of water from the tunnel repairs is no longer an insurable cause because the event that caused the collapse of the tunnel occurred outside the insurance period. Prevent planting cannot be claimed for the 2021 season because of reduced flow from the tunnel repairs.
Concerns regarding irrigation water availability due to snowpack are still relevant. However, this is a separate issue from the carrying capacity of the Goshen/Gering-Ft. Laramie canal.
This information is designed to support and help clarify existing crop insurance policy provisions and procedures. For more detailed information and options you may have, please consult a crop insurance agent.