WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture published a final rule codifying provisions of the Access to Baby Formula Act of 2022legislation led by Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05) during the height of the 2022 baby formula shortage in the United States. 

“When the baby formula shortage began last year, many parents were left wondering how they would feed their children. For parents enrolled in WIC, there was an added pressure of having to purchase specific formula based on program requirements. I know first-hand how critical WIC is to families, but the shortage revealed how dangerous those limitations can be,” said Congresswoman Jahana Hayes, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Nutrition, Foreign Agriculture, and Horticulture“My Access to Baby Formula Act and the new USDA rule, will help families in the face of crisis. This rule helps strengthen a program that has historically been associated with improved infant health outcomes and reduced infant mortality.” 

 “All families in America should be able to keep their children fed and healthy. Regrettably, the devastating shortage of infant formula last year disproportionately hurt families that rely on WIC benefits to secure infant formula, leaving them with few options to purchase safe formula for their infants,” said Congressman Bobby Scott, Ranking Member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee.  

“That is why Congresswoman Hayes and I led House passage of the bipartisan Access to Baby Formula Act of 2022 to ensure that—during public health emergencies, supply chain disruptions, product recalls, and other emergencies—families relying on WIC can use their benefits to purchase any safe infant formula products available on the shelves. 

“With today’s final rule, our nation’s families can rest assured that, in times of crisis, they will be able to continue providing their infants with the nutrition they need.  I applaud the Biden administration for faithfully implementing this law and ensuring that—no matter the circumstances—we support our most vulnerable families and infants.” 

The Access to Baby Formula Act amended the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 to: 

  1. Establish a waiver authority to address emergencies, disasters, and supply chain disruptions by ensuring states that contract with companies for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) can secure supplies from additional manufacturers. 

  1. Waive requirements that can slow down the process to get formula back on the shelves, without sacrificing safety standards. 

  1. Strengthen coordination and information sharing between the Secretary of Agriculture and Secretary of Health and Human Services regarding any supply chain disruption, including supplemental food recalls. 

The final USDA rule will: 

  1. Add requirements to State agency infant formula cost containment contracts. 

  1. Establish waiver authority to the Secretary of Agriculture to address certain emergencies, disasters, and supply chain disruptions impacting WIC. 

  1. Require WIC State agencies to develop a plan of alternate operating procedures, commonly referred to as a disaster plan. 

Approximately half of the baby formula purchased in the United States is purchased through the WIC program. During a crisis, it is essential we have an infrastructure in place to help families feed their newborn babies and infants.

Congresswoman Hayes worked hard to ensure the Access to Baby Formula Act of 2022 passed in the House of Representatives with strong bipartisan supporta vote of 413-9. The legislation passed in the Senate unanimously by voice vote and was signed into law by President Joe Biden in May of 2022.