ARLINGTON, VA – NMPF strongly opposes legislation introduced today by Senators Mike Lee, R-UT, and Bob Menendez, D-NJ, and Representatives Adrian Smith, R-NE, and Don Beyer, D-VA, that would increase U.S. vulnerability to infant formula supply disruptions by increasing U.S. reliance on imported formula and formula inputs. The legislation would unilaterally and permanently remove tariffs and tariff rate quotas on infant formula and infant formula base powder, resulting in job loss and foreign dependence.
“This bill would make American families more reliant on foreign companies for their infant formula supply and puts in place new one-way-street trade conditions that would harm dairy farmers, cooperatives and processors,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of NMPF. “Instead of weakening our domestic infant formula sector and putting American jobs at risk, we ask that Congress work with us to reinforce and expand our domestic production capacity.
“We strongly support two-way dairy trade,” Mulhern said. “That’s why we advocated for passage of existing U.S. free trade agreements and why we’ve been vocal proponents of resuming trade negotiations to expand dairy trade opportunities; but we vehemently object to putting unilateral import expansion on the backs of American dairy farmers.”
This bill is a misguided response to the dire shortages of infant formula that occurred last year after a temporary production crisis at a large U.S. formula manufacturing plant. In response to that short-term, unique emergency, NMPF supported the 2022 Formula Act and did not oppose passage of the subsequent 2022 Bulk Infant Formula to Retail Shelves Act, which increased import access at a time of acute need. Both laws rightfully expired at the end of 2022, once U.S. production had recovered to pre-crisis levels.
FDA noted in May 2023 testimony to the House Oversight Committee that formula stocking levels are now higher than those seen prior to last year’s temporary crisis, making the legislation introduced today all the more nonsensical.
“American dairy farmers and dairy cooperatives are committed to ensuring a robust, dependable supply of infant formula for American families,” said Randy Mooney, NMPF chairman and a dairy farmer near Rogersville, MO. “The United States can absolutely more than meet domestic demand, and should in fact be positioning itself as a net-exporter of infant formula. The U.S. dairy industry is a proven leader in providing milk powder, whey, lactose and cheese to consumers all around the world – infant formula should be no different.”
Mulhern said that “the idea that the best way for the United States to secure a dependable supply of infant formula is through foreign companies and an unreliable global supply chain is simply wrong. Congress should focus its efforts instead on better supporting the American companies, workers, and farmers who supply nearly all of this country’s formula and formula ingredient needs. Those steps should include reforms to WIC program procurement; ensuring new domestic formula firms have the support needed to gain market authorization; and negotiating new trade agreements to expand export opportunities for American-made formula and other dairy products.”