President Obama has signed legislation providing fiscal 2010 appropriations — $121 billion — for the USDA, the Department of Health and Human Services, and other agencies.

A nod to those struggling in a rocky economy, HR 2997 includes nearly $100 billion — or 80 percent of the funds — is designated for food stamps and school nutrition programs. Just over $58 billion — a rise of over $4 billion from 2009 — will go to food stamps. WIC, a federal assistance program for Women, Infants and Children, also received a funding bump to $7.3 billion. School nutrition program funding also leapt $1.9 billion for a total just under $17 billion.

Of the remaining HR 2997 funds, slightly over $23 billion will be spread among programs for agricultural research, conservation, food safety, housing assistance and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Some $290 million, aimed at helping undergird the struggling U.S. dairy industry, will fund dairy farmers with direct support. An additional $60 million will be used to purchase dairy products for food pantries and nutrition programs.

Dairy farmers are in such dire straits, however, the $350 million might not be enough to keep some operations from going broke. Industry analysts say producing milk costs $18-plus per hundredweight. Farmers are currently receiving an average price of just over $11. That is $8 less than just 15 months ago.

e-mail: dbennett@farmpress.com