Support during a drought

Help is available to farmers, growers, and their families during drought and in the recovery period.

Areas affected by drought in 2020

On 12 March 2020, the Government classified the drought as a large-scale adverse event for:

  • all of the North Island
  • the top of the South Island (Marlborough, Tasman, Kaikōura) down to North Canterbury (Selwyn District, Christchurch City (including Banks Peninsula), Waimakariri District, Hurunui District, and Kaikōura District)
  • the Chatham Islands.

Agriculture Minister declares large-scale adverse event – Beehive

There has been some rain in June, which has greened up some pastures. However the knock-on effects of drought last for several growing seasons and there are significant feed shortages through much of New Zealand.

What farmers can do

Monitor your feed situation

Plan your feed

Contact a Rural Support Trust

Talk to an industry association

Check your budget

Monitor your feed situation

Drought conditions across several regions, combined with COVID-19 restrictions, mean there are shortages of supplementary feed in much of the country, particularly Hawke’s Bay and Northland. Ongoing feed planning and budgeting are essential.

Feed planning support [PDF, 486 KB]

Drought monitor – NIWA

Feed survey summary

3 July 2020 [PDF, 410 KB]

25 June 2020 [PDF, 410 KB]

30 May 2020 [PDF, 400 KB]

15 May 2020 [PDF, 411 KB]

24 April 2020 [PDF, 409 KB]

31 July 2020 [PDF, 92 KB]

Plan your feed

Free feed planning support

Call the free winter feed planning service to talk through your options:

  • 0800 BEEFLAMB (0800 23 33 52)
  • 0800 4 DairyNZ (0800 43 24 79 69)

Feed coordination service

Feed coordinators have been appointed to help connect up farmers with available feed sources. They are coordinating offers and requests in each region, working with the primary sector groups and trusts.

To use this service, you need to have a feed budget for the next few months so that they can help you get through.

Farmers and livestock owners can register for feed wanted here directly:

I need feed – Feed Coordination Service

If you have feed to donate or sell register here:

I have feed to sell or donate – Feed Coordination Service

If you have feed to sell, you can list it on the free AgriHQ Feed noticeboard to sell it directly:

Feed noticeboard – AgriHQ

Order alternative feed

If you believe you need supplementary feed, place an order with a feed merchant as soon as possible. This includes for grain from the South Island.

Some imported feeds – for example, PKE – can take 10 to 12 weeks to arrive after ordering so you need to bear this in mind when ordering. Suppliers may be able to advise on a range or mix of products to ensure your stock receive the best possible nutrition in these difficult times.

Contact a Rural Support Trust

Your local trust can provide support and advice. It's free to use a Rural Support Trust. Talking to them is confidential. They can connect you with the services you need, whether it's financial and business advice or health services.

Freephone 0800 78 72 54 (0800 RURAL HELP).

Rural Support Trust

Talk to an industry association

Industry associations like Beef + Lamb New Zealand or Dairy NZ can provide technical advice. Their websites have information on planning your feed budget and managing an animal's condition.

Knowledge hub – Beef + Lamb New Zealand

Animal management – Dairy NZ

Check your budget

Talk to your bank and accountant early, and talk to them regularly.

Inland Revenue can answer questions relating to taxes.

Work and Income can tell you about emergency benefits, special needs grants, or rural assistance payments.

Income Tax – Inland Revenue

Emergency Benefit – Work and Income

Special Needs Grant – Work and Income

Rural Assistance Payment – Work and Income

Government help for farmers affected by drought

Government funding of $2 million has been released to help primary industries recover from the drought. Support can include:

  • drought coordinators working alongside the Rural Support Trust, councils, Civil Defence, industry organisations, and community groups
  • psychosocial support and events
  • rural assistance payments (RAPs) to farming families who need help to pay their bills
  • Inland Revenue, who may allow late deposits and early withdrawal from the income equalisation scheme
  • access to professional recovery advice.

RAPs are set at the rate of the Jobseeker support benefit and are administered by Work and Income. To find out more, talk to your Rural Support Trust.

There are no cash grants for droughts, but you can talk to Work and Income about hardship support.

Other drought advice and guidance

Lifestyle and small block owners: Plan to get through winter and early spring [PDF, 737 KB]

Farming through 2020: where to go for information and support [PDF, 1.3 MB]

Information on how to get through the current feed shortage situation [PDF, 589 KB]

Advice about on-farm emergency euthanasia [PDF, 561 KB]

Summer management – Dairy NZ

How you can get help

Adverse events resources

Who to contact

If you have questions about droughts or support for farmers, email

Last reviewed: