Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) today announced his support for the FORMULA Act, recently introduced by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), which seeks to combat domestic baby formula shortages by bolstering the supply chain to help families feed their babies.
“Iowa is one of several states where half of all baby formula was sold out at the end of April, and I’ve heard from parents and health care providers rightfully concerned about the health and welfare of babies and patients with special medical needs. It’s critically important that a reliable supply of formula is reestablished immediately. The FORMULA Act will accomplish this by removing trade and regulatory barriers to ensure infants and patients receive the nutrition they need to survive,” Grassley said.
Challenges in the baby formula supply chain have caused the out-of-stock rate for formula to triple from numbers seen six months ago. Recent shortages come in the immediate aftermath of a recall and temporary closure of a major American formula factory, but the shortages also highlight systemic weaknesses in this vital supply chain.
The FORMULA Act targets supply chain disruption by temporarily waiving current protectionist trade barriers like tariffs and quotas on importation that reduce the supply and increase the price of available foreign-made formula. The bill would also waive regulations that prevent the importation of safe baby formula from abroad. This would allow American families to access safe formula manufactured in Europe and elsewhere during the current shortage. The bill will also allow Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program recipients to use vouchers to purchase formula from any producer – rather than be limited to the brand or product listed on specific vouchers which may be unavailable.
Last week, Grassley successfully pressed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for answers on what actions they were taking to immediately avert this dangerous shortage.