The Wyoming congressional delegation joined by senators and one representative from Nebraska have asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture for crop insurance protection for farmers hurt by the partial collapse of the Goshen-Gering-Fort Laramie irrigation canal tunnel last month, according to a news release from the delegation.

"We request you make an expedited determination based on the ongoing lack of adequate water supply and its damaging effects on crop growth and maturity," the congressional delegations wrote Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday.

The letter was signed by Wyoming U.S. Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barasso, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, Nebraska Sens. Benjamin Sasse and Deb Fischer, and Nebraska Rep. Adrian Smith.

They explained the 109-year-old, 2,200-foot-long tunnel partially collapsed along the Fort Laramie Canal on July 17. The tunnel and canal system supplies water from the Goshen Irrigation District to the Gering-Fort Laramie Irrigation District in Nebraska.

"The water disruption has affected approximately 107,000 acres of corn, sugar beets, dry edible beans and alfalfa crops grown in the region," they wrote.

Farmers continue to care for their crops, but the lack of irrigation and rainfall have taken a serious toll on the planted areas, crop yields and crop quality, they wrote. "As farmers are moving toward harvest, it would be beneficial to know their crop insurance will cover crop losses that resulted from the lack of adequate water supply."

A report from the extension offices of the universities of Wyoming and Nebraska estimated the direct impact to Goshen County at $24.57 million and $52.77 million to Scotts Bluff County. Total losses, including impacts to both states, are estimated to be $89.13 million, according to the report.

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