Drought 2020 - What you need to know

You don’t need to choose between feeding your animals and your family - what are RAPs and how to access them

If you’re finding it difficult to meet essential living costs due to the drought and your farm is your main source of income, you may be eligible for a Rural Assistance Payments (RAPs).

While these are means tested based on any cash or off-farm assets (currently must be under $1,136.36 for a single person or $1,855.15 for a couple or someone with dependents) on farm assets like tractors, farm vehicles, stock, feed stores or money that is required for stock feed and replacing capital stock should not be included. These assets also do not include dairy, meat or fertiliser company shares, and other farm or orchard assets. You and your partner can earn up to $90 per week (before tax) combined before this will affect your payments. 

To apply for RAPs, you will need to complete this form here - this will need to be signed by an Agri-recovery Facilitator or a Rural Support Trust Facilitator before it is returned to Ministry of Social Development.

The Ministry of Social Development also have other options that could be suitable to get you help that you may need, please do not hesitate to call them 0800 559 009, Mon-Fri 7am to 6pm, and Sat 8am to 1pm 

Feed - Finding it, Moving it and Managing it

Feed planning before getting help from the feed coordinators – why 

Feed planning is required before the feed coordinators connect you with any feed (to purchase or donated) to ensure you are making the most of that feed you purchase or receive, and ensure you have had the opportunity to talk to somebody about your plan. 

We have had a lot of feedback that, 'farmers know what they need – they need feed', but as the North Island is facing a shortage of hay, silage and baleage, prices are high and it is hard to find. You may need to consider alternative feed options (considering feed that is more economically viable) or reducing capital stock numbers, and this conversation needs to happen with your levy body or a trusted consultant ahead of accessing a feed coordinator. 

To reach out for Feed Planning support please call either beef + lamb (0800 233 352) or DairyNZ (0800 4 324 7969)

If you do have feed for sale or want to purchase feed, please look at TradeMe or the Feed Noticeboard on AgriHQ

 You can register for assistance finding feed with the feed coordinators here  - note we do recommend trying your normal marketplace for feed first. Feed through this service is unlikely to be cheaper or better, rather it is designed to connect those people with feed if they cant find it through their normal marketplace. You can register before you have done your feed plan and they will assist you in reaching out to a levy body or consultant.

If you wish to register feed for donation (or for sale where you don't want to advertise it on TradeMe or AgriHQ, or through other marketplaces) please register it here

Receiving Donated Feed

If you are in a situation where you require donated feed, you will need to be known to Rural Support Trust. Donated feed is very limited and Rural Support Trust are in the best position to know the full picture of a farmers situation from the farmers and their animals welfare situation, their financial situation, and other issues that could be present. Please see the Looking After Yourself section for their contact information if you need to talk to them.

Donating or Selling Feed

If you are interested in donating feed or have feed like hay or baleage you want to sell to the drought affected farmers, you can register this here. The donation/offer of feed will be matched by the feed coordinators to someone if there is a suitable farmer to receive or purchase that feed.

All feed is being matched on a willing seller/donator, willing buyer basis. If feed is being donated or sold, we advise you allow the farmer receiving the feed to arrange the transport, so they cover that cost. In areas with mayoral funds, they may be able to claim some or all of that cost back. 

Organising a Feed Drive

If you want to organise a feed drive, or you and a number of others want to donate a few bales each to make up a unit load, we recommend you drive this at a grass roots level. Offer one farm to run as a depot for the feed to be dropped off (try and stick to one feed type, it makes it easier to load for transport) and contact the feed coordinators about what you are doing. When you have a unit load together, a feed coordinator will be able to match this to a willing receiver who can arrange transport to collect it. Please be patient as all donated feed going through the feed coordinators must go through the Rural Support Trust to make sure the person receiving it is a deserving candidate.

Alternatively, if you have a friend or connection who has helped you out in some way in the past and you want to rally to support them directly, contact them about what you are doing for them and when you have enough together to transport, they can arrange that. Again, these farmers in areas with mayoral funds, may be able to claim some or all of that cost back.

Mayoral Funds 

Mayoral Funds have been approved for the Hawkes Bay, Hauraki and Northland areas. The application must come from an affected farmer and at this stage the funds will only be assisting farmers with the transport costs associated with feed.

Hawkes Bay is taking applications, find more information on their drought hub page here

The process for Hauraki and Northland is still being established but keep good records of your transport costs and this will be announced in the coming weeks. 

Financial Donations

After several enquiries from members who want to help but don’t know how, we have set up an account to collect donations that we will distribute to the Mayoral Funds in mid-June. This money will be tagged as “to assist farmers in the procurement of feed” to ensure it reaches farmers. 

To donate:

Bank Account Name: Federated Farmers of New Zealand
Bank Account Number: 03-0306-0626460-002
Particulars: Your Name
Code: Drought
Reference: Your member number or phone number
Once you have donated, please email accounts@fedfarm.org.nz if you would like a receipt. Please include your name, your member number or phone number and the code word drought so they can easily find your donation


Feed - Feeding it and using supplements you are unfamiliar with

Feeding whole grain to sheep

FAR have put together a resource on the option of feeding grain to sheep. It includes information on the nutritional value of grain, information on transition requirements and limits on how much to feed - this can be found here

DairyNZ's Supplements page

DairyNZ has a supplements page here that has a ton information on a variety of feeds - including how to transition, store and their nutritional value as well as a supplement cost calculator that is really useful for comparing different feeds. 

Beef + Lamb Extreme Dry Management workbook

The beef + lamb extreme dry management workbook provides a lot advice on feeding different feeds, management options and recovery advice for getting through a drought. This can be found here - this workbook was developed with farmers during the North Canterbury drought and is a really useful resource for considering the whole farm system at the different stages of drought, and importantly has a section for planning for next year. 

Looking After Yourself

Rural Support Trusts

Your local Rural Support Trust (RST) is a great place to start for free and confidential support and advice. This nationwide network is run by local people to help farming families and rural communities.

They work with government, industry and support agencies, helping with information and recovery measures.

RSTs can help put you in touch with services, including planning and management advice and mentoring, health information, Work and Income, or financial support.

They also have facilitators trained in helping people in stressful situations like a drought and are there for you to talk 0800 787 254. They also have some drought specific resources on their website here


Farmstrong is a nationwide wellbeing programme for the rural community. Their aim is to help you live well to farm well. When you look after yourself, you’re looking after your farm too. Farming is a job with a unique set of challenges – many are hard to predict or control.
These challenges and pressures aren’t going to disappear. That’s why developing habits that help you perform at your best are so important. You can access Farmstrong here

Your GP

Your GP is the best place to go if you are having a hard time. They will give you a physical health check but they are also there to assist with your mental health. There is a number of services and tools they have in their toolbox, so please reach out to them. 

How are other farmers doing?

This isn’t the first drought we have had in New Zealand, it probably won’t be the last, and you are not alone in what you are experiencing. While not exactly positive, there are a lot of farmers out there who have experience or going through this with you right now. Keep an eye out for local events but below are some case studies and podcasts for  you to use to check in with how others are getting through it and have gotten through it.

Case Studies
beef + lamb with the assistance of AgFirst have put together some case studies around farmers affected by drought that have been supported by the Feed Planning service through the 0800 beef + lamb number and AgFirst:
Dargaville, Northland
Cheviot, North Canterbury  
Ashley Clinton, Hawkes Bay

North Canterbury farmer and member of our Meat and Wool Executive Dan Hodgen talks to our host about the North Canterbury drought which lasted four years. Dan speaks from his own experiences and memories about moving from “surviving to thriving”  Dan speaks about recognising trigger points, the importance of making early decisions and the actions that the North Canterbury rural community took together to thrive in adversity.

To listen to the podcast, follow this link

MPI - Getting Support During a Drought

When MPI  declared a Large-Scale Adverse Event earlier this year, a number of options of support for farmers was made available. You can find information from NIWA and other agencies on monitoring feed and drought conditions, drought recovery advice (this is a fund that will pay up to $5000 of professional advice for recovery), benefits that could be available for you through IRD, and who to contact for support.

This page can be found here

Lifestyle and small block owners

Plan to get through winter and early spring click the below pdf to find out more