Congress this week passed the Bulk Infant Formula to Retail Shelves Act — bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara.
The measure is intended to boost domestic baby formula production and get more products on shelves amid the continued shortage across the U.S.
The House unanimously approved the legislation Thursday afternoon. Earlier in the day, the bill passed the Senate unanimously.
It now goes to President Joe Biden for his signature.
“My No. 1 focus in Congress is lowering the cost of living for the Central Coast, and this legislation is just one more example of how my colleagues and I are working across the aisle to support families, fix formula shortages, and keep our infants healthy and well-fed,” Rep. Carbajal said in a statement. “This measure, combined with the Formula Act that Congress approved in July, will help get more safe, affordable formula on store shelves and increase domestic production capacity.
“I’m proud to see this bill reach the president’s desk after unanimously passing the House this week, and look forward to getting this and other legislation implemented to help families facing supply chain disruptions and rising food and gas prices,” he said.
The bill temporarily lifts tariffs on safe imported “base powder,” a key component filled with essential proteins, fats, and carbohydrates that is mixed with nutrients and other ingredients to make the formula that parents buy on store shelves or online. Nationally, the out-of-stock rate for formula is 61%, down from its May high of 86%.
According to Rep. Carbajal’s office, lifting the tariffs on base powder and increasing domestic manufacturing would be especially helpful for families participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, which, by law, must be used in brick-and-mortar retail stores and cannot be used for online purchases. About half the baby formula purchased in the U.S. is purchased through WIC.
Earlier this year, Congress passed the Formula Act, which temporarily lifted tariffs on safely imported baby formula. The bipartisan bill was overwhelmingly supported in the House and Senate. It currently reduces the cost of imported formula for parents by more than 25%.
A summary of the Bulk Infant Formula to Retail Shelves Act can be found at delbene.house.gov/uploadedfiles/bulk_infant_formula_bill_one_pager.pdf,