Little showers of rain over the last week have not been enough to end the drought that is getting its grip on coastal farmland, Brian Doughty says.

He's a trustee of the Ruapehu/Wanganui Rural Support Trust, which will get a share of $160,000 announced by Government on December 23.

The money will go to trusts supporting farmers afflicted by drought along the lower North Island's west coast. The dry spell has been called a "medium scale adverse event".

Such events have happened before, but never so dry before Christmas, and never after such a wet winter.


"There's been no substantial rain for 40 to 50 days, only little bits here and there," Mr Doughty said.

He's heard of 2mm in one place, 6mm in another and a thunderstorm with plenty of rain at Kakatahi. But he said 150-200mm over two weeks is needed to return things to normal - and even then it would take 30 days to get grass growing strongly.

Trustees will meet in January to plan what action to take and ask for what money they need, Ruapehu/Wanganui Rural Support Trust co-ordinator Lyn Neeson said. They could ask for money to hold events, or to pay local facilitators.

Any drought is tough on farmers, as well as their animals. Feed is short in the North Island, and Mr Doughty doesn't know whether Federated Farmers will co-ordinate supply.

It's important to have a plan and to act on it, he said, rather than waiting and hoping for rain. The DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb NZ and NIWA websites all have advice about weather conditions and how to cope with them.

Advice includes calculating whether you have enough feed for your stock, killing or selling off stock early, maintaining bores and setting dates for action.

There may also be financial help available. The ANZ Bank will waive fees for some business it does, and provide discounted short-term loans. The Inland Revenue Department may allow late payments and Government may help with income.

Landowners who need help can ring the rural support trust on 0800 787 254, or visit www.