Adverse Event Information and Support for Farmers

COVID-19 - Important Information for Farmers 

As essential services yourselves, it is understandable you are worried about the services that are essential to you to do your job. Farming and Horticulture are considered essential services as “Producers of food and beverage”. Also the services associated with the primary sector, including food processing, diagnostics and farm supplies, are all essential services. Freight and trucking are included as essential services, where they support essential services.

A list of essential businesses can be found by clicking here - this is a live page and the list will be updated as time goes on. We are working with our National Council to ensure all businesses important to farmers are included.
While your business may be part of an essential service you need to restrict your activities to essential activities – particularly avoiding travelling and mixing with others. The golden rule is two metres of separation from others. This includes the tanker and stock truck drivers, technicians and other services visiting your property or popping to your neighbours. Social interaction is important but try and restrict this to phone or video calls outside of your immediate household and farm team.

For advice on managing your workplace during this lock down - please click here - this page is live and will be regularly updated.

If your staff member needs to travel to their place of work - there is a letter available on this page called "Letters for employers to provide employees - Essential Service Workforce"

Classification of Large Scale Drought - North Island, Top of the South Island, North Canterbury and the Chatham Islands

The Minister has classified the drought as a large-scale adverse event because of its intensity, its spread across multiple regions, and because some of the usual risk management options have been disrupted by COVID19.

What support that will be made available will depend on a community's needs and rural initiatives already underway. Keep in touch with your Rural Support Trust via 0800 787 254 if you need assistance. Psychosocial support for farmers and growers, and their families will be available, as well as Rural Assistance Payments where income does not meet essential living needs, late deposits and early withdrawal from the income equalisation scheme, and access of up to $5000 of professional recovery advice for affected primary sector businesses for long term planning and recovery once drought conditions ease.

At this stage, Federated Farmers will not be running a Feedline. This is due to the widespread nature of the drought and feed still being available to purchase on the open market. If you are in a position where you can no longer afford to purchase feed and you do need urgent assistance to manage the welfare of your animals, you need to speak to the Rural Support Trust who will help put plans in place to manage the situation. Federated Farmers will be working with a National Feed Working Group to look at options for feed management short, medium and long term, similar to work done for the Southland and Otago Winter Feed Toolkit. 

Otago and Southland

Prior to the flooding, we were aware that many farmers in these provinces had been battling against the climate this season to get feed in front of animals for the winter and next year. Federated Farmers have since pulled together a group of technical experts to discuss options and sense check what this would mean for animal health, farm systems management and your finances before pulling the information into a toolkit for you to use. This is available here now. The local recovery team will be working on events and online education tools to compliment this toolkit which aims to empower you as farmers with options while you still have time ahead of winter to minimise the impact this season will have on the next.

Government Support

When adverse events occur, whether a local scale emergency declaration in an area or a medium scale event or larger that is declared by the Ministry for Primary Industries, certain recovery measures (depending on the scale of the event) are available. For more information on this assistance, click here .

Rural Support Trust

The Rural Support Trust is there to help, working along side you, in a natural disaster such as a drought. They can help with your application for financial assistance, provide support, and connect you to other services should you need them.  Call them on 0800 787 254 or click here  to go to their website. All calls are free, local, and confidential. If they don't answer first go, leave a message and they will get back to you. This line is open to all rural people, not just farm and business owners.


The DairyNZ website has tools and information for managing your dairy farm through drought as well more tools on planning ahead. They also have resources for farms experiencing low pasture growth due to high rainfall and how to future proof your system for coming seasons. 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand

Beef + Lamb New Zealand has an Extreme Dry Management Tool kit available on their website for drystock farmers, as well as additional information on animal welfare, supplementary feeding, and planning ahead.

Staff Management

As is the case in these situations, due to the financial hardship of drought, you may need advice on what to do with staff if you can't continue to pay them during this period. For our members, you can call 0800 327 646 who can connect you to the Member Employment Lawyer free service. Alternatively, you can see the redundancy and other employment factsheets available on our employment page. For non-members, you can contact the Rural Support Trust for more advice and information or an independent lawyer.