Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is 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 letter, please click here or read below:
Dear President Biden,
I respectfully request for you to invoke your authorities granted under the defense Production Act of 1950 (P.L. 81-774, 50 U.S.C. §§ 4501 et seq.) to increase the production of baby formula needed to provide essential nutrition to infants across the country. The prioritization of baby formula production is crucial to address hoarding, offset price gouging, and alleviate the stress and anxiety faced by millions of desperate parents searching for food for their young children. National security cannot be fully achieved without human security, which requires access to nutrition and clean water and basic necessities of life.
As you know, due to an increase in demand heading into 2022 and tragic faults in private sector production, parents across the United States have faced a stunning lack of availability in baby formula. This shortage has led many families across the country to sometimes drive hours in search of formula, only to arrive at empty shelves. For low-income, rural, and urban families, finding in-stock formula continues to present a substantial and stressful challenge; for those with infants who have allergies and medical conditions, their options are even more limited, and shortages have become an issue of life or death.
Under the Defense Production Act, the President is given a broad set of authorities to assist domestic industry with solving critical national issues like the current shortage of formula. Under Title I of the Defense Production Act, you have the authority to require persons, businesses, and corporations to prioritize and accept contracts for baby formula production under both emergency and non-emergency conditions. Titles III and VII also allow you to direct the expansion of productive capacity and supply of baby formula by incentivizing the domestic industrial base when a critical shortage exists while entering into voluntary agreements with private businesses to coordinate the production of excess formula. These authorities have been employed numerous times since the 1950s to supplement national stockpiles. Given that certain reports suggest that nearly 40% of formula nationwide is now out of stock, the need to intensify production of formula to prevent a future child nutrition crisis is clear.
Thank you for all that you and your Administration have done thus far to assist America’s parents, children, and infants, and for engaging with private industry on this issue. I look forward to working with you and the Administration to address this urgent problem.