Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, recently joined Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member John Boozman (R-Ark.) to introduce bipartisan, bicameral legislation to address the baby formula shortage for families who rely on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
The bill, known as the Access to Baby Formula Act, passed the Senate unanimously today and now heads to President Biden’s desk.
“Both now and in the future, we must ensure all families are able to purchase formula needed to feed their infants. That’s why I was proud to support the Access to Baby Formula Act, which will help families utilizing the WIC program while also taking necessary steps to prevent a dangerous baby formula shortage from ever happening again,” Grassley said.
The WIC program provides information on healthy eating and helps millions of families buy nutritious foods, including baby formula. 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 a supply shortage. This flexibility would ensure that the brand or type of formula families can buy is not restricted by program rules, allowing families to purchase whatever is available in the store.
In addition, the legislation would require that formula manufacturers that provide formula for individuals who rely on WIC have a plan in place to respond to a shortage so that families will be able to purchase the formula they need.
In addition to Grassley, Stabenow and Boozman, the legislation is cosponsored by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill) and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.).
This week, Grassley also joined an effort to get baby formula back on grocery store shelves by temporarily waiving certain trade barriers to open up imports of safe formula produced abroad. Recently, he also successfully pressed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for answers on what actions they were taking to immediately avert this dangerous shortage.
A summary of the bill is available HERE.
Text of the bill is available HERE.