In the dry year of 2012, irrigation helped Nebraskan farmers grow crops more successfully, according to the Kearney Hub. Water delivered from canals and lateral ditches helped stimulate crop growth and delivered around $11 billion to the state’s economy.
The extent of drought in 2012 prompted the Nebraska Farm Bureau to commission a study to quantify the value of irrigation to the state’s farmers. Even though it seems clear that irrigation is beneficial, the bureau wanted scientific data to back up its value.
The study found that irrigation activity created $7.1 billion in direct economic benefit to Nebraska, representing 8.8 percent of its gross domestic product in 2011. Without irrigation projects, the report notes more than 31,000 jobs would not have been created in 2012.