Hoeven Helps Introduce Access to Baby Formula Act

Senator Pressing FDA to Take Action to Increase Access to Formula, Answer for Current Shortage

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, joined Agriculture Committee Chair Senator Debbie Stabenow and Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Senator John Boozman in introducing the Access to Baby Formula Act, legislation to 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 current formula shortage is causing unnecessary stress for parents and families. American families shouldn’t have to worry about finding something as vital as baby formula,” said Hoeven. “We helped introduce bipartisan legislation to provide flexibility to address the current shortages and to ensure that USDA and formula makers have a plan in place to prevent future shortages. At the same time, we’re pressing the Food and Drug Administration to take additional action and for answers as to why and how this shortage was allowed to happen.”   

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.