Support during a drought

Find out what help is available to farmers, growers, and their families during a drought and in the recovery period.

Drought declared a large-scale event

On 12 March 2020, the Government declared the current drought was a large-scale adverse event affecting:

  • 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.

Adverse events status map - South Island [PDF, 4.2 MB]

Agriculture Minister declares large-scale adverse event – Beehive

What you can do

Plan for your animals

It is important to make sure your animals are healthy during a drought.

Ensuring the welfare of your animals in dry or drought conditions [PDF, 184 KB]

Animals in emergencies

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

Have a feed plan

You can’t control the rain, but you can have plans in place. MPI and partner agencies are offering help with feed planning.

Getting support with your feed planning [PDF, 486 KB]

Check your budget

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

If you need help with planning and budgeting for your farm, your Rural Support Trust can point you in the right direction.

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

Keep track of conditions

Drought monitor – NIWA

What government help is available?

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.

Be kind to yourself. Ask for help

If you have questions about the information on this page, email

Find out more

Support for rural people in the 2020 drought [PDF, 605 KB]

Summer management – Dairy NZ

How you can get help

Adverse events resources

Last reviewed: