The drought in the North Island is now starting to bite off-farm, with some rural-based retailers having to lay off staff.
A meeting of representatives from the drought regions of Northland, Waikato, Auckland and Bay of Plenty has found that farmers' financial situations are worsening.
Committee member Norm Barker of Waikato says there seems to be a cumulative effect from the dry conditions of the past few years.
As a result, he says farmers are not spending money in their rural towns, so service firms and retailers are also struggling.
Mr Barker says the drought-zone committee plans to give information on the situation to the Ministers of Finance and Agriculture, to make them aware of the impact the drought is having on the rural community.