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President, lawmakers act to help ramp up baby formula production

The federal government announced more steps to increase production and assist low-income families.
Published: May. 19, 2022 at 6:10 AM EDT|Updated: May. 19, 2022 at 7:34 AM EDT
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(WFSB) - Help is on the way for millions of parents struggling to feed their babies because of a formula shortage.

The federal government announced more steps to increase production and assist low-income families.

However, the shortage is still expected to last for the next several weeks.

President Joe Biden and Congress acted on Wednesday, though some people said they waited too long.

“When I get to work in the morning, I look for formula,” said Colleen Hafencher, a mother searching for formula. “When we’re sitting on the couch for an hour at night, we’re looking for formula.”

Two bills headed to the U.S. Senate Thursday after they passed in the House of Representatives late Wednesday night. The Access to Baby Formula Act, which would help low-income families use their WIC benefits for formula, had strong bipartisan support.

“If we can’t find it in the stores, then we lose our benefits,” said Diana Torres, another mother searching for formula.

Biden said he invoked the Defense Production Act to help formula makers get ingredients faster.

He also sent planes overseas.

“To pick up infant formula that meets U-S health and safety standards, so we can get it on store shelves faster,” the president said.

Criticism continued to grow about how long it took to take the actions.

The formula plant at the heart of a nationwide recall, Abbott Laboratories in Michigan, shut down in February.

“This is serious. This is unacceptable. This is a basic need for babies,” said Jae Coleman, a mother searching for formula. “Something has to be done right now.”

Another bill headed to the Senate would increase the number of Food and Drug Administration inspectors at formula plants.

Votes on both proposals were expected later Thursday.

Help is on the way for millions of parents struggling to feed their babies because of a formula shortage.