Mounting Concerns as Dry conditions Start to Bite across Canterbury

Media Release

Mounting concerns as dry conditions start to bite across Canterbury

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in collaboration with a number of agricultural industry groups are closely monitoring dry conditions across Canterbury.

 While North Canterbury (Clarence River to the Rakaia River) is covered by the current large-scale drought classification, there is also significant existing support available for all farmers and growers across wider Canterbury who need it.

Stock Feed

Are you short of feed? The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) funds a free feed planning and coordination service. The planning service helps farmers develop feed budgets and the coordination service helps connect farmers who need feed with available sources of supplement, such as silage and hay. Read more about Bruce Goldstone’s experience using the feed coordination service: 

The feed planning service, which can help give you peace of mind, can be accessed by phoning 0800 BEEFLAMB (0800 23 33 52) or 0800 4 Dairy NZ (0800 4 324 7969). More information is available here:

Note; All Farmers need to identify and secure their winter feed requirements without delay, or risk missing out as many districts do not have available surpluses to call on. 

Farm Business Support

Do you require some independent, professional advice and support to help tackle your farm debt? The Government has allocated $200,000 for the Farm Business Advice Support Fund, which is managed by Rural Support Trusts. Banks are jointly funding the initiative. Qualifying farmers can receive up to $6,000 to seek independent financial or business advice. Apply through your local Rural Support Trust:

Banks & Finance

Do you need help working through more significant debt issues with your bank? The Farm Debt Mediation Scheme uses neutral and independent mediators to help farmers and growers and their creditors work through debt issues. Farmers can request mediation at any time. Almost 40 mediators can offer services under the scheme. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) can also assist with the costs of mediation through the scheme’s hardship fund. For more information, click the link below:

Planning and early decision making is essential during dry weather.

Things you can do:

  • Ensure bores are well maintained and make contingency plans for water augmentation in case supply fails.
  • Have a back-up plan if you rely on dams, natural water, or tank water for livestock. Monitor the water level and book tank refills well in advance.

Farmers and growers:

  • Favourable weather conditions in late spring enabled the majority of farmers to prepare well for dry conditions.
  • Don’t delay making key decisions while you wait for rain. Talk to trusted advisors. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or support.
  • Talk to your neighbours, especially if they are new to your district or have limited experience farming during extended dry periods. They might not have a large support network they can ask for help.

Farmers with livestock:

  • Knowing what feed demand is likely to be will provide you with a greater degree of control and certainty.
  • It is important management plans include trigger points to stop milking cows or cull animals to preserve feed for pregnant or capital livestock.
  • Keep in regular contact with your livestock agent and book space at the meatworks well in advance for animals you plan to cull.
  • Dairy farmers are encouraged to carefully consider the profitability of buying in extra supplementary feed to prolong lactation, even though forecast milk payouts are rising.
  • Have regular discussions with your grazier to ensure they have a plan and have adequate supplementary feed on hand.

Drought Declaration

North Canterbury farmers are advised that the large-scale drought classification put in place last year is still active. This gives farmers the opportunity to access a number of extra assistance facilities:

  • Ministry of Social Development has a range of financial assistance available including Emergency Benefit, Special Needs Grant and Rural Assistance Payments. Please talk to your local Work and Income Office.
  • Inland Revenue assistance: Tax relief measures may be made available on a case-by-case basis. These could include flexibility on tax dates, or income equalisation. Please phone Inland Revenue on 0800 473 566

MPI continues to monitor the impacts of the dry weather and assess what, if any, additional support, including wellbeing support, is needed.


Having experienced several droughts and other challenging events in recent years, there is an awareness of the accumulative stress that these events inevitably cause.

 We are conscious that farmers are already facing a number of stressful issues, and the developing dry conditions are significantly adding another layer.

 Please look out for your neighbour, do not hesitate to seek help for yourself or for those known to you who are struggling. In addition to the information above, do not hesitate to contact your Rural Support Trust 0800 78 72 54 (0800 RURAL HELP) who are there for your support, or your rural GP’s, trusted friends and colleagues. 


Winton Dalley

Chair Canterbury Rural Advisory Group.

029 770 2866

Click here for the youtube interview with Winton Dalley


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