President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that he was invoking the Defense Production Act to speed up the manufacturing of U.S.-made infant formula, as well as directing government agencies to use the Defense Department’s commercial aircraft to pick up products from overseas.
The DPA requires suppliers to send necessary resources to infant formula suppliers before other customers who have requested the goods.
The administration has faced growing calls to take more action, such as invoking the DPA, as limited supplies shake parents across the country who are struggling to find the critical and, in some cases, life-sustaining products.
“I know parents all across the country are worried about finding enough infant formula to feed their babies. As a parent and a grandparent, I know just how stressful that is,” Biden said in a video posted on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon, announcing the new steps.
The White House also announced “Operation Fly Formula” to speed up imports. The president has asked the Department of Health and Human Services and the Agriculture Department to use Defense commercial aircraft to pick up U.S.-approved, overseas infant formula “so it can get to store shelves faster.”
“Bypassing regular air freighting routes will speed up the importation and distribution of formula and serve as an immediate support as manufacturers continue to ramp up production,” the announcement said.
The shortage is in part fueled by the monthslong shutdown of the Abbott Nutrition plant in Sturgis, Mich., one of the biggest suppliers of infant formula in the U.S. and also a major supplier of several specialty formulas used by thousands of infants, children and adults with metabolic, allergic and gastrointestinal disorders. In February, the manufacturer recalled several products after FDA inspectors launched an investigation into complaints that four infants were hospitalized with rare bacteria after consuming formula produced at the plant. Two infants died.
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