May 18, 2022

Senator Gillibrand Announces Plan To Combat Baby Formula Shortage

In light of the ongoing baby formula shortage, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand held a video press conference to announce the introduction of her bicameral Emergency Infant Formula Act. The new legislation would take important steps to increase domestic production and expand sourcing of formula in order to alleviate the current crisis and prevent future shortages. This bill is led in the House of Representatives by Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA).

 

“No family in America should ever be concerned they cannot feed their babies. Corporate greed and malfeasance have put us in this dire situation and now we must act with urgency,” said Senator Gillibrand. “That’s why I’m introducing the Emergency Infant Formula Act, a bill that would authorize the president to suspend tariffs and significantly expand the sourcing of baby formula in times of emergency, and spells out the president’s ability to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase domestic production of formula. These key steps will help address hoarding, offset price gouging, and alleviate the stress and anxiety faced by too many parents desperately searching for food to keep their children fed.”

 

Following a recall at Abbott Nutrition, the nation’s largest infant formula manufacturer, reports suggest that roughly 40% of formula nationwide is out of stock. Compounded by supply chain disruptions as a result of the pandemic, this recall has created a life or death situation for many of the millions of families that depend on formula to feed their infants, and without immediate action to speed up the production and distribution of formula, babies who rely on formula may go hungry or starve. Senator Gillibrand’s plan will help ensure that desperately needed formula gets to vulnerable children and families as quickly as possible.

 

Specifically, the Emergency Infant Formula Act would:

 

  • Give the president the authority, during periods of shortage, to specify that certain baby formulas may be imported and sold in the U.S. This applies only to formula legally sold in the E.U., Canada, the U.K., and Japan. The president would also have the authority to limit the authorization to particular brands, manufacturers, or particular manufacturing facilities, and to modify or suspend labeling requirements.

 

  • Authorize the president to suspend tariffs on baby formula and baby formula ingredients, and instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to give these products priority processing.  

 

  • Clarify that the Defense Production Act applies to infant formula.

 

Earlier this week, Senator Gillibrand also sent a letter calling on President Biden to invoke the Defense Production Act to urgently address the current baby formula shortage.

 

A champion of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Gillibrand leads the annual effort to fully fund WIC and to provide supplemental funding for baby formula. She also supports the bipartisan WIC Healthy Beginnings Act, which promotes competition and quality for infant formula manufacturers by creating an online database to streamline bids from formula manufacturers to state WIC programs. Recently, she cosigned a letter led by Senator Murray calling on the Infant Nutrition Council of America (INCA), an association of the four major U.S. infant formula manufacturers, to increase infant formula production and distribution, and prevent future supply chain disruptions. Gillibrand is also a cosponsor of the Supply Chain Resiliency Act, which would help alleviate current supply chain bottlenecks and prevent future disruptions by reducing reliance on long supply chains and investing in American companies. She cosigned a FY23 appropriations letter requesting $20 million in funding for the Maternal and Infant Health and Nutrition programs at the FDA to help provide sufficient staffing for pre-market reviews of infant formula and rapidly respond to recalls. Together, the success of these efforts would be instrumental in preventing a crisis like the one being felt now across the nation.

 

For the full bill, please click here.