May 18, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden invokes Defense Production Act to address baby formula shortage

Empty shelves in the baby formula aisle of a store in Albany, California, on Tuesday, May 17, 2022. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Wednesday invoked the Defense Production Act to address the baby formula shortage that has caused panic for the millions of parents and caregivers in the U.S. who rely on formula to feed their children.

Driving the news: Invoking the DPA will require "suppliers to direct needed resources to infant formula manufacturers before any other customer who may have ordered that good," the White House said in a fact sheet.

  • Biden also directed several government agencies to use Department of Defense commercial planes to pick up formula overseas that meets U.S. standards and bring it back to the U.S. to help restock shelves in what the administration is calling "Operation Fly Formula."
  • "Imports of baby formula will serve as a bridge to this ramped up production, therefore, I am requesting you take all appropriate measures available to get additional safe formula into the country immediately," Biden wrote in a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

What he's saying: "I know parents all across the country are worried about finding enough infant formula to feed their babies," Biden said in an address posted on Twitter. "As a parent and as a grandparent, I know just how stressful that is."

  • "I've directed my team to do everything possible to ensure there's enough safe baby formula and that it is quickly reaching families that need it the most," Biden said.

The shortage turned into a full-blown crisis as retailers across the country have reported about 40% of their baby formula is out of stock, due to supply chain issues and a recent recall of certain products.

  • In February, Abbott Nutrition recalled several major brands of its formula and closed its facility in Sturgis, Michigan due to concerns about bacterial contamination.
  • The company reached an agreement with the Food and Drug Administration on Monday to reopen the plant in two weeks, but it will take another six to eight weeks for the baby formula to reach store shelves.

Go deeper: Why there is a baby formula crisis and what can be done about it

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