WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Mike Turner (OH-10) and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (NY-21) have introduced the Improving Newborn Formula Access for a Nutritious Tomorrow (INFANT) Act, which would expand baby formula contracting for states from one to two suppliers in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
“Families should never be placed in a situation where they struggle to adequately feed their infant children, but that has been the harsh reality for countless families in Ohio and across the country for more than a year,” said Congressman Mike Turner. “I am proud to partner with my friend and colleague, Congresswoman Stefanik, to expand WIC’s existing contracting requirements and foster competitiveness in the baby formula market. By making our supply chain more resilient, we can protect families from baby formula shortages in the future.”
“This critical, family-oriented legislation comes in the wake of the ongoing nationwide baby formula shortage crisis that is still heavily impacting mothers who rely on WIC to feed their babies. As the newest Mom in Congress, I have been advocating for parents and families in Upstate NY and across America struggling to find baby formula since the beginning of this crisis. It’s time to pass this legislation to ensure that we put ourselves in a position where a baby formula shortage crisis never happens again,” stated Congresswoman Elise Stefanik.
“It is important to take steps to ensure Montgomery County families are not faced with another shortage of baby formula caused by a limited number of available manufacturers,” said Tracey Waller, Montgomery County WIC Senior Manager, Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County. “Our community, like many nationwide, is still recovering from the infant formula shortage that started fifteen months ago. Increasing the number of sources for baby formula would be a positive step to helping keep Montgomery County residents healthy, thriving, and safe.”
The WIC program provides federal grants to states for food, healthcare referrals, and nutrition education to low-income women (pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum) and children under 5 years old. It serves around 40 percent of all infants born in the United States and accounts for half of infant formula consumption.
Under current law, states are required to contract with only one baby formula manufacturer for the WIC program. As a result, three companies, Abbott, Reckitt, and Gerber, provide 95 percent of the total baby formula supply nationwide.
The state of Ohio contracts with Mead Johnson, a division of Reckitt, to produce its Enfamil products. Its contract with Mead Johnson began in October 2021 and will be up for renewal in 2024. Ohio WIC contracts renew every 3-5 years, and the state previously contracted with Gerber.
Three-quarters of caregivers rely on infant formula, at least in part, to feed their children. Therefore, when one manufacturer stops operations, as Abbott did in February 2023, there are shortages nationwide, and caregivers cannot properly feed their children.
The INFANT Act differs from previous legislation aimed at solving the baby formula crisis because it establishes WIC contracting requirements that will prevent another shortage.
Read the full text of the Improving Newborn Formula Access for a Nutritious Tomorrow (INFANT) Act here.