Biden signed the Formula Act - what took so long?

AP Photo/Eric Gay

What took so long for tariffs to be lifted on baby formula? The White House announced that Joe Biden signed H.R.8351 – the Formula Act – on Thursday. The bill allows baby formula to be imported through December 31, 2022 duty-free. Why wasn’t this done six months ago?


During this time period, articles of infant formula shall not be subject to (1) any additional safeguard duties that may be imposed under subchapter IV of chapter 99 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule; or (2) any other import quotas, tariff-rate quotas, additional duties, or any other duties, fees, exactions, or charges that otherwise would apply to such articles.

Importers shall provide the applicable and anticipated tariff classifications for articles of infant formula on applicable customs entry documents.

It seems insane that I’m still writing about a baby formula shortage in the United States of America. Biden’s America is looking like a third world country. The Food and Drug Administration has allowed formula imports to help address a U.S. formula shortage, but tariffs have increased the retail cost of these products. Baby formula shortages began six months ago, maybe even longer, yet the Biden administration has been slow to respond, for reasons never fully explained.

The Abbott plant shut down on February 17. The plant produced about 40% of the baby formula sold in the United States. That should have been a huge red flag for everyone involved, including the FDA and the Biden administration. The FDA shut the plant down due to contamination issues yet apparently there was no back-up plan ready to keep the supply chain moving for baby formula. The market simply lost 40% of its supply. To make matters worse, parents were told to throw out their existing supplies of formula produced at the Abbott plant in Sturgis, Michigan out of caution.


The baby formula shortage received little press coverage until the situation became truly dire. When the baby formula shortage hit crisis stage, the administration finally acknowledged it. Joe Biden said the administration didn’t move faster on it because they aren’t mind-readers. Yes, really. It didn’t take the ability to read minds, though, for someone, anyone, in the White House to notice that there are empty shelves in stores instead of cans of baby formula. Aren’t any of the people working in Joe Biden’s administration parents of babies? The Secretary of Transportation took a generous amount of time off at taxpayer expense when he and his husband became fathers of twins. Didn’t he notice it was getting difficult to buy formula? He’s a critical part of the supply chain, why didn’t he step up?

So, belatedly, Biden (who claims he wasn’t even told about the formula shortage crisis until April) invoked the Defense Production Act for baby formula in May. As usual, the Biden administration refuses to admit it dropped the ball and continue to say that they are working on the problem around the clock. Also belatedly, someone in the administration finally realized that it might be a good idea to import baby formula made in other countries to pick up the slack. Lifting tariffs on these imports eases the process. Also, the FDA finally eased mandatory wording used in packaging of baby formula.

Operation Fly Formula was needed months before it began in June. Yet, Biden is happy to take credit for its success. The problem is that it is a very limited success. The amount of baby formula being flown in from Europe is a drop in the bucket compared to the needs of American families. So far, only 53 flights have flown in enough formula for 60 million bottles. That sounds like a lot of formula but it is only enough to meet the demands of just one week. Also, much of the shipments of formula have been specialty types of formula for babies with special nutrition needs. What about parents looking for standard formula?


Believe it or not, the shortages are getting worse, not better. Of course you believe it – this is the Biden administration we’re talking about.

‘The typical demand for baby formula is about 4 million lbs. each week which translates to approximately 60 million 8-ounce bottles,’ Ram Ganesham, Professor of Operations & Supply Chain at Raymond A. Mason School of Business in Virginia, told

First, a flight from Zurich brought 1.5 million 8-ounce bottles of three formulas—Alfamino Infant, Alfamino Junior, and Gerber Good Start Extensive HA, from Zurich to Plainfield, Indiana.

Over the coming weeks, planes arrived from Germany, Australia and London.

More are planned for this week, but formula stock remains low.

New data reveals the hardest-hit state to be Arkansas, where nearly half of the ordinary stock level has been depleted.

Montana, Minnesota, Michigan, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado are now all 30 percent out of stock – or more – according to the data compiled by IRI analysis.

Nationally, formula stock has dropped from being 85 percent in stock in February to less than 70 percent now.

The Abbott plant in Michigan reopened on June 4 after being closed for four months. It was open for just two weeks before closing again due to rainstorms flooding the area.

The Biden administration has a track record of ignoring problems until they reach crisis level and then slowly beginning to address the problem. There never seems to be any sort of plan in place for anything. The administration is always on the defense, never offense. This is the administration that was supposed to be full of government professionals, experienced in everything needed to keep the government running smoothly. The reality is that Joe Biden is kept in the dark on just about everything, apparently, and his cabinet level officials were mostly hired for the boxes they checked, not because they are people of experience in their fields. It was more important to Joe Biden to be able to call someone an historic hire due to the person’s race, gender, or sexual preference, instead of touting the person’s resume for whatever position he or she filled. This is Joe Biden’s America and it is a disaster.


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John Stossel 12:00 AM | April 24, 2024