Hoeven: Congress Passes Legislation to Help Address Formula Shortage

Senator Helped Introduce Bill in the Senate to Provide Flexibility in WIC, Help Prevent Future Shortages

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today issued the following statement after the Senate passed the Access to Baby Formula Act. Hoeven helped introduce the Senate companion to this legislation, which will help address the current baby formula shortage for families who rely on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and prevent future shortages.

The Access to Baby Formula Act gives the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) the authority they need to be more flexible during a crisis such as a natural disaster, public health emergency, or recall and shortage currently facing our country. This flexibility would ensure that the brand or type of formula families can buy isn’t restricted by program rules, allowing families to purchase whatever is available in the store with their WIC benefits. In addition, the legislation would require that formula manufacturers that provide formula for WIC have a plan in place to respond to a shortage so that families will be able to purchase the formula they need. The bill has now passed both chambers of Congress and will go to the president to be signed into law.

“We welcome the prompt passage of our bill to address the shortage of baby formula, providing relief to impacted families across our nation, while also helping to prevent similar issues in the future,” said Hoeven. “At the same time, we need answers from FDA about how this shortage occurred. We continue to press the agency for this information and to ensure they do everything possible to alleviate this shortage.”   

Additionally, Hoeven and Senator Tammy Baldwin, the leaders of the Senate Agriculture, Rural Development and Food and Drug Agency (FDA) Appropriations Committee, are pressing the FDA Commissioner for answers regarding the current shortage, and to ensure that the agency does all possible to alleviate the issue. Click here for the letter. 

The senators are pressing for the following:

  • A detailed timeline of the FDA’s inspection of the Abbott facility in Sturgis, MI, including dates of inspection and details of problems encountered at the facility by FDA inspectors. 
  • A full explanation of the Agency’s efforts to ensure that all imported formula meets the same high standards of safety and nutrition required by the FDA of U.S. manufacturers. This should include information as to whether there is manufacturing equivalency in overseas facilities and details regarding how the FDA will guarantee these products are safe without in person inspections.
  • A complete explanation of actions taken by the FDA to date, and recommendations on how to immediately increase access to infant formula as well as bolster the supply chain. 
  • A detailed explanation of actions taken to date and recommendations on how the FDA can work to prevent a similar crisis from occurring in the future.