It’s been one heck of a growing season in Nebraska, with one challenge after another: Floods, blizzards, one of the wettest springs on record, and now western Nebraska farmers are dealing with no water because of a July 17 irrigation tunnel collapse near Fort Laramie, Wyo. This lack of water to 107,000 acres of farmland in both Nebraska and Wyoming will place a tremendous economic burden on those who live in the Nebraska Panhandle. The canal provides water to 55,000 acres of Nebraska farmland. According to a new report issued by the University of Wyoming Extention and Nebraska Extention August 15, the economic impact to the area affected could climb as high as $89 million if the loss of irrigation water results in a total crop failure.

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When things got complicated and tough decisions needed to be made on the farm, 87-year old Ray Rieker would head to his 800 acres of pasture ground and sit for a while. While watching his cow/calf pairs graze in the lush green hills and canyons that mark his land, eventually things got a lot clearer. This piece of ground in southwest Nebraska near Eustis, has always meant a lot to Ray and his wife, Virginia, and they want to pass it down to their four children.

Nebraska Farm Bureau's Leadership Academy cadets took their annual tour to see western Nebraska agriculture July 22-23. The group also prepared for their September National Affairs visit to Washington, D.C. Below are photos from this year's tour. Photos by Phil Erdman.

By Bailey Corwine

For three days in March, a perfect storm unfolded across the state of Nebraska. Heavy rains, abnormal for that time of year, pounded the frozen ground and immediately ran into already-full streams and rivers. Eventually, the state’s water containment system simply could no longer handle the deluge, and the Spencer Dam on the Niobrara River collapsed.