The Government has declared a drought in Northland and parts of Auckland after months of monitoring the situation.
Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor made the declaration this afternoon after receiving advice from the Rural Adverse Events Team this morning.
The declaration of a medium scale adverse weather event for the primary sector covers all areas north of the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
The Government has allocated $80,000 as support in the form of tax relief, emergency grants, and loss of income through a number of agencies.
"This is recognition that the extreme and prolonged nature of this dry spell is taking its toll on our farmers and growers and additional support is needed," O'Connor said.
"We know they prepare for dry conditions in January and February, but these areas have been dry since November, on the back of much lower rainfall than normal through the whole of 2019. With little rain forecast for the next couple of weeks, things are getting tough.
"Across the country, there are local groups that meet regularly – made up of regional councils, industry groups, the Rural Support Trust and government agencies. They're a key source of advice for me and the Northland group's advice to date has been that the farmers and growers have been well prepared and coping pretty well. I let them know that if they were to ask for Government support – they would most definitely get it.
"They met again today and have said that the situation was now beyond the rural community's ability to cope and they have requested assistance," he said.
O'Connor said that despite the challenges, the majority of farmers and growers are coping "reasonably well".
"People are making the hard decisions needed on culling stock, purchasing feed, prioritising crops, and switching to once-a-day milking," he said.
"We know that farmers and growers are used to managing through adverse weather events, but I'd encourage them to make use of the great support available. Droughts can be really tough, especially on new farmers with little previous experience to lean on.
"I'm continuing to keep a close eye on other areas across the country as dry conditions increase in much of the North Island, the top of the South Island, and northern Canterbury."