Biden invokes powers of Defense Production Act as private industry rushes to fill formula void

by Trinity Cardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


President Joe Biden made his most forceful step to date in his attempt to solve a critical baby formula shortage gripping the nation, utilizing the Defense Production Act to speed the importation of formula into the United States.

“I know parents across the country are worried about finding enough formula to feed their babies,” Biden said in a video statement. “As a parent and as a grandparent, I know just how stressful that is.”

In a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Biden announced what he termed “Operation Fly Formula,” through which he authorized the Department of Defense to use commercial aircraft to fly FDA-acceptable formula from overseas into the U.S.

“I request that you work expeditiously to identify any and all avenues to speed the importation of safe infant formula into the United States and onto store shelves,” Biden wrote. “I further request that over the next week you work with the Department of Defense to utilize contracted aircraft to accelerate the arrival of infant formula into the United States that meets our Government’s health and safety standards.”

Moreover, the Defense Production Act will require companies that provide supplies to formula-producing companies to fill those orders prior to addressing other customers’ requests.

“@POTUS invoking the #DPA will put U.S. #InfantFormula manufacturers first in line for the resources they need,” Becerra tweeted, “and Operation Fly Formula will allow us to get formula that is safe & approved from overseas onto U.S. shelves quickly. Huge steps toward solving the #FormulaShortage.”

Biden’s announcement came a day after Business Insider reported that Nestle, the company that produces Gerber baby food, was redoubling its effort to import formula from Europe.

“We have significantly increased the amount of our infant formula available to consumers by ramping up production and accelerating general product availability to retailers and online, as well as in hospitals for those most vulnerable,” the company told Business insider via a statement.

Nestle is primarily pulling from formula supplies in the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Biden has faced increased pressure to remove bureaucratic barriers that prevented the very measures he is now pushing from being undertaken sooner.

“Mothers all across the country are faced with empty shelves where infant formula once was,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said in a statement. “They are resorting to all options to feed their hungry babies, from making formula themselves to diluting and rationing the little they have left—which can have dangerous outcomes for their babies.”

Paul on Wednesday introduced a new bill that would, if passed, permanently remove several barriers on the importation of formula from specific, first-world nations: Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, the United Kingdom, and nations in either the European Union or European Economic Area. Each of these nations have safety regulations in place similar to those found in the United States.

“While the Biden Administration and government bureaucrats stand idly by – yet again – to watch a crisis run out of control,” Paul said, “my bill offers a commonsense solution that will deregulate the baby formula industry, lower costs for families and increase supply at stores across the United States.”