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Biden Invokes Defense Production Act and Announces 'Operation Fly Formula' to Address Baby Formula Shortage


President Joe Biden has invoked the Defense Production Act to address the nationwide shortage of baby formula, he announced on Wednesday.

The shortage came amid a supply chain crisis and the temporary closure of Abbott Laboratories’ facility in Sturgis, Michigan — where Similac products are produced.

Biden announced the efforts in a tweet.

“I’m taking two new steps to increase baby formula supply,” Biden tweeted. First, he said that he was invoking the Defense Production Act to increase domestic production. Second, he announced an effort dubbed “Operation Fly Formula” to use federal planes to fly formula in from abroad.

“We’re making sure safe formula gets to all who need it,” the tweet added.

The tweet also included a video of Biden discussing the issue.

A memorandum for the Secretary of Health and Human Services from the White House on Wednesday evening stated, “on February 17, 2022, the largest infant formula manufacturer in the country — Abbott Nutrition — initiated a voluntary recall of several lines of powdered infant formula made at its Sturgis, Michigan facility, following concerns about bacterial contamination at the facility after four infants fell ill. This incident has combined with supply chain stress associated with effects of the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic to cause an acute disruption in the supply of infant formula in the United States.”

“Adequate supply of infant formula is critical to the health and safety of the millions of children who depend on the formula for essential nutrition. The Federal Government has worked in the last several months to address the shortfall in infant formula, but additional measures are needed to ensure an adequate supply of infant formula in the United States and thereby protect the health and well-being of our Nation’s children,” the memorandum continued.

The White House concluded that, “the Secretary of Health and Human Services may use the authority under section 101 of the Act to determine, in consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture and the heads of other executive departments and agencies as appropriate, the proper nationwide priorities and allocation of all ingredients necessary to manufacture infant formula, including controlling the distribution of such materials (including applicable services) in the civilian market, for responding to the shortage of infant formula within the United States.”

The Abbott facility is expected to resume operations within the next two weeks.

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