Despite one of the more severe droughts in Nebraska's history last year, the ability of farmers to irrigate their crops contributed a whopping $11 billion to the state's economy.
The finding comes through a new study chartered by Nebraska Farm Bureau to identify the importance of water for irrigation during one of the worst droughts in Nebraska's history, says Steve Nelson, farmer from Axtell and president of the organization.
"We knew irrigation was important to our farm and ranch members, but the study shows the benefits of water for irrigation stretch well beyond the farm gate," Nelson says.
The study, conducted by Decision Innovation Solutions, a research firm located in Des Moines, Iowa, provides an estimate of the total impact which irrigated agriculture had on the Nebraska economy in 2012. Economic impact estimates were calculated comparing Nebraska's economic activity with and without farmers and ranchers ability to irrigate in 2012.
"To put this into perspective, $11 billion is the equivalent of every Nebraskan filling their vehicle with gasoline roughly 100 times at $3.50 per gallon,' Nelson says. "We're talking about a significant contribution to the state."