Struggling dairy producers are getting a one-time infusion of $290 million in federal aid under the 2010 Farm Bill. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak accelerated the payments in late December to help producers cope with the severe economic crisis facing the industry.

“This is an essential stop-gap measure that will help many dairy farmers stay in business in the short-term,” said Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. “Looking forward, it is obvious that our existing dairy programs are not providing an adequate safety net for dairy farmers, and we need to look at ways we can reform dairy policy to ensure that it provides adequate support for the long term success of the industry.”

Dairy processors, who are not always in agreement with producers on dairy price support issues, supported the measure.

“We still need to look for longer-term solutions as our current dairy programs were not designed for the realities of the 21st century dairy industry,” said Jerry Slominski, senior vice president of legislative and economic affairs for the International Dairy Foods Association.