Explained: How Joe Biden is countering the US baby formula shortage

Amidst a major nationwide shortage of baby milkUS President Joe Biden Invoking Korean War Era Law To ramp up domestic production, he announced that he would deploy commercial aircraft to import supplies as part of a mission dubbed “Operation Fly Formula”.

“I know parents across the country are concerned about finding enough milk to feed their children,” Biden said in a video statement released by the White House on Wednesday. “As a parent and as a grandfather, I know how stressful that is.”

Over the past few months, the United States has been Suffering from a shortage of infant formula This has left thousands of parents across the country scrambling to find the product they can rely on to feed their children. While formula milk production was already affected by supply chain hurdles linked to the pandemic, the crisis was exacerbated when one of the country’s largest infant formula producers recalled its products after many babies started falling ill.

What law did Joe Biden rely on to address the shortage of infant formula?

The Biden administration responded to the shortage by turning to the Defense Production Act, which was first implemented during the Korean War to help meet the growing demand for defense equipment. Enacted in 1950, it allows the president to direct companies to prioritize the supply of products to defend the country. It also prevents price gouging in times of shortage and inflation, and gives the president the power to stimulate expansion in production.

With the Biden administration’s latest move, suppliers of key formula ingredients will have to prioritize the delivery of those resources to formula manufacturers.

Previously, both Biden and former President Donald Trump have invoked the law during the Covid-19 pandemic to ramp up production of necessary medical supplies and vaccines.

Infant formula deficiency: What is the “fly formula”?

To speed up the import of infant formula, Biden also announced a new operation dubbed “Operation Fly,” under which cargo planes under contracts with the Department of Defense will be allowed to transport supplies of formula that meet federal standards from abroad to the United States, Associated Press mentioned.

“Bypassing normal air freight routes will expedite the import and distribution of the formula and will act as an immediate support as manufacturers continue to ramp up production,” a statement from the White House said.

The latest White House guidance came just hours before the US Congress overwhelmingly approved a bill to expand access to infant formula among low-income Americans, Washington Post mentioned.

What led to the shortage of infant formula in the United States?

While the impact of the Covid pandemic on supply chains has slowed infant formula production, the situation worsened into full-blown crisis when major formula maker Abbott Laboratories announced it was recalling its formula amid reports of babies becoming ill after consuming milk powder. one of his plants.

Abbott is one of four plants that collectively meet about 90 percent of the United States’ supply of infant formula.

In February, Abbott announced it was closing one of its manufacturing facilities in Michigan after a federal investigation began to assess why four children who were fed this formula had the bacterial infection, two of whom died. Abbott asserts that there is no link between formula and diseases, Watchman mentioned.

States like Tennessee, Texas and Iowa are suffering shortages most acutely, with more than 50 percent of the product being sold out. CBS mentioned. Low-income families are disproportionately affected. Almost half of all infant formula in the United States is purchased under the U.S. government’s WIC, a supplemental feeding program for women, infants, and children. Abbott provides about half of the children registered under this program.

What is the expected duration of infant formula deficiency?

Recently, the US government began working closely with Abbott to safely reopen its Michigan plant. According to the company, it will take more than a month before its products are again available in grocery stores.

To increase the supply of infant formula in the country, the US Food and Drug Administration introduced a series of measures To facilitate foreign infant formula manufacturers selling their products in the United States.

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