Agricultural Economics Department


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Published by the Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Copyright 2010 Regents of the University of Nebraska.


Nebraska’s obligations under the terms of the Republican Basin Compact and the Cooperative Agreement for the Platte River, as well as our continuing commitment to future generations, require reductions in the consumptive use of water in irrigation. Reducing irrigation in a cost effective and equitable way is perhaps the most important water policy challenge which Nebraska must address. Determining how to meet this challenge involves the following questions: how will irrigators be affected by irrigation reduction programs such as allocation or forced reductions in irrigated acres; how will the Nebraska economy and local communities be affected; what is the least cost method of reducing irrigation consumptive use (CU), and; who should bear the cost of irrigation reduction programs: irrigators, Natural Resources Districts (NRD’s) or the State of Nebraska?

This article summarizes what we now know about these questions. Although the numbers cited are a constantly moving target as crop prices, grain yields and input prices change, the related policy conclusions are not likely to change much over time.