HHS Secretary Becerra Invokes Defense Production Act for Third Time to Further Increase Production of Infant Formula for American Families
U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra today invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA) for a third time in less than a week, moving to ensure Cargill Inc. (Cargill) can deliver the raw materials to maximize production of infant formula.
Cargill supplies dozens of different products to a wide range of infant formula manufacturers and it is critical for Cargill to fill orders from these infant formula manufacturers in full, as quickly as possible, for ingredients such as corn byproducts, sweeteners, and oils. Using DPA authorities will allow Cargill to place certain orders for infant formula manufacturers (“rated” orders) ahead of unrated orders to ensure these manufacturers are able to produce infant formula at full capacity to address the urgent marketplace shortages.
“Our mission at HHS is to ensure the health and well-being of all Americans, which includes ensuring our children are well-fed and cared for,” said Secretary Becerra. “As a dad, I know how critical it is to provide for your child. The Biden-Harris Administration will continue to pull every lever available to us to make sure we’re getting formula to kids and families that need it.”
HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) continues to monitor the health of the infant formula supply chain and meet with companies that may be able to further increase infant formula supply with the assistance of DPA authorities. Given the criticality of infant formula, as recognized by the Administration, relying on the DPA is necessary and warranted to ensure the delivery of the necessary raw materials to address the urgent infant formula marketplace shortages.
“Invoking the Defense Production Act is a targeted and timely way to quickly and efficiently increase the supply of infant formula nationwide,” said HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell. “The two DPA priority ratings we issued previously are already making a positive impact on overall production, which is why we will continue to leverage DPA when we believe it will help mitigate the current shortage.”
On May 18, President Biden issued a memorandum that delegated Defense Production Act priorities and allocations authorities to the Secretary of HHS with respect to infant formula to address the shortage in the United States. On May 22, Secretary Becerra invoked DPA to authorize manufacturers Abbott Nutrition and Mead Johnson/Reckitt to obtain raw materials and consumables needed to further accelerate production of infant formula.
In addition to invoking the Defense Production Act, the Biden-Harris Administration has completed two Operation Fly Formula flights, flying in the equivalent of 1.5 million, 8-ounce bottles of infant formula to the United States. HHS, through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is taking additional steps that will lead to more infant formula on U.S. store shelves in the coming weeks and months, including providing increased flexibilities for importation of certain formulas and a newly announced plan to import 1.25 million additional cans of formula (27.5 million, 8-ounce bottles) from Australia.