Administration Takes First Steps on Formula Shortage

Biden meets with companies about increasing supply
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2022 7:17 PM CDT
Administration Steps In but Lacks Answers on Formula Shortage
Infant formula is displayed on the shelves of a grocery store Tuesday in Carmel, Indiana.   (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

(Newser) – The Biden administration told the nation what it's doing to eliminate the shortage of infant formula on Thursday, but officials had few answers about when their actions will make a difference. Among the efforts that the administration conceded are less than major, President Biden met with representatives of manufacturers and retailers, the New York Times reports. "The steps the president took today are an acknowledgment and a recognition that more needs to be done," said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. "Our message to parents is, we hear you, we want to do everything we can, and we’re going to cut every element of red tape to help address this and make it better for you, to get formula on the shelves."

The steps involve:
Presidential pressure: Biden talked to the companies about hurrying production and distribution, possibly simplifying product lines, per the Washington Post. The discussion included ways the government could help refill store shelves, especially in rural areas.
FTC intervention: The Federal Trade Commission, as well as state officials, are being told to move against price gouging. Companies will be asked to enforce buying limits on formula.
More imports: The Food and Drug Administration plans to announce soon that imports of infant formula will be ramped up, mostly from Mexico, Chile, Ireland, and the Netherlands.
WIC changes: The Department of Agriculture is asking states to expand the formula types and sizes that WIC recipients can obtain with their benefits, per USA Today.

Other options are under consideration to increase formula inventory, Psaki said, including invoking the Defense Production Act. But she couldn't say where parents needing infant formula now should turn, per CNN. Lawmakers expressing the need Thursday for urgency in solving the problem included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Congress should act immediately, Pelosi said. "Right now the baby's crying, the baby's hungry—we need to address it right now," she said. (Read more infant formula stories.)

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