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Stabenow bill addressing baby formula shortage passes with unanimous support

Stabenow use.png
Rick Brewer
Courtesy of C-Span
Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow speaking on the floor of the U.S. Senate on May 18, 2022.

A bill to address the nation’s baby formula shortage for families who are on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) supplemental nutrition program known as WIC has passed in the Senate with unanimous support.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow introduced the bill as chairwoman of the committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.

The bill gives USDA the authority to ensure the WIC program doesn’t restrict parents to specific baby formula brands or certain container sizes.

During her speech to the full Senate, Stabenow said this is an "all-hands-on deck" moment and that parents need to be able to buy what is available in stores right now.

"When a family, for instance, in Traverse City, Michigan, or in Lansing or in Detroit, goes to the grocery store, and there's only one brand on the shelf. And it's not the brand under the WIC contract they need to be able to use their WIC support to be able to purchase that," said Stabenow.

The bill would also require manufacturers who provide WIC formulas to have plans in place to address potential issues in the future.

"We want to make sure this is permanent," Stabenow said. "Whether it's a recall a safety recall, a supply chain breakdown, whatever it is...USDA has the capacity, the authority, the tools to be able to move forward and make sure that they can respond as quickly as possible."

A similar bill has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives and was backed by Michigan congressmen, Jack Bergman, John Moolenaar and Dan Kildee. The bill now waits for President Biden’s signature.