Economic Impact

Economic Impact of Reduction in Irrigated Acres


Regulations calling for increased stream flows to benefit endangered species and to address “over-appropriated” reaches have led regulators to enact different strategies including buying irrigated land and converting it to dry land acres. The focus has been on increasing stream flow. But at what cost?

In 2011, Dr. Eric Thompson, with the UNL Bureau of Business Research, published “An Economic Analysis of Water Balance” analyzing the economic impact of measures that reduce irrigated acres in Nebraska. This study quantified the impacts of converting less than 3% of irrigated acres in Lincoln, Dawson and Buffalo counties in Nebraska to dry land.

Regulations calling for increased stream flows to benefit endangered species and to address “over-appropriated” reaches have led regulators to enact different strategies including buying irrigated land and converting it to dry land acres. The focus has been on increasing stream flow. But at what cost?

NOTE: The numbers in this report are based on the following: Corn ($3.92/bu), Wheat ($5.52/bu) were based on the average outlook price from FAPRI for the 2010 to 2015 period. Alfalfa and hay prices vary significantly by geography so we utilized a price of $77.50 per ton of Alfalfa, $75.00 per ton of hay and $9.60 per bushel of soybeans reported in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln publication Cornhusker Economics.
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