DEFENSE PRODUCTION ACT INVOKED BY ​BIDEN TO ADDRESS BABY FORMULA SHORTAGE

On Wednesday, the White House announced that President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA) to address and hopefully to speed production of infant formula, as he continues to face mounting political pressure over a domestic shortage caused by the safety-related closure of the country’s largest formula manufacturing plant.

Supplies of baby formula across the country have been severely curtailed in recent weeks after a February recall by Abbott Nutrition compounded the ongoing supply chain disruptions among formula makers, leaving fewer options on store shelves and increasingly anxious parents struggling to find nutrition for their children.

The DPA order requires suppliers of formula manufacturer to fulfill those orders before other customers. “Directing firms to prioritize and allocate the production of key infant formula inputs will help increase production and speed up stock deliveries in supply chains,” the White House said of Biden’s DPA move.

The Biden administrations is also authorizing the Defense Department to launch what the White House is calling “Operation Fly Formula,” to use commercial aircraft to fly overseas formula supplies that meet federal standards to the United States.”

The White House statement said in part about Operation Fly Formula, “To speed up the import of infant formula and get more formula to stores as soon as possible, President Biden has directed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to use Department of Defense (DOD) commercial aircraft to pick up overseas infant formula that meets U.S. health and safety standards, so it can get to store shelves faster.”

President Biden had told reports earlier this week that the administration was considering these moves.

Regulators said on Monday that they had reached a deal to allow Abbot Nutrition to restart its Sturgis, Michigan plant, the nation’s largest formula plant, after closing due to contamination issues. The company must overhaul its safety protocols and procedures before resuming production.

Abbott said after receiving the FDA’s approval, it will take about 8-10 weeks before new products begin arriving in stores. The company hasn’t set a timeline to restart manufacturing as of today.

The shortage of baby formula has joined inflation, broader supply-chain issues, and stock market uncertainty, as issues undermining confidence in Biden’s economic stewardship during a midterm election year.

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