On a trip to visit the United States-Mexico border this week, Representative Buddy Carter (R-GA) saw well-stocked warehouses with a variety of supplies including baby formula. The facility for unaccompanied minors and families in Donna, Texas is stocked high “like a Costco” with baby formula, Rep. Carter said in a Thursday interview with Fox News.
While the border patrol facilities for migrants are well-stocked, Texas is one of the states worst-affected by the baby formula shortage, according to data from the market research group IRI. The congressman said he and his colleagues were specifically on the lookout for formula at the border facilities.
The baby formula supply crisis has continued to worsen in the U.S. The shortage appears to be the result of a combination of the FDA’s shuttering of an Abbott production facility in Michigan, general pandemic-related supply chain issues, and the federal government’s involvement with the purchasing and production of baby formula through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC program.
In some southern and southwestern states, where the shortages are worst, over 50 percent of baby formula purchases are made by the federal government through the WIC program. Because of the contracts between producers and the WIC program, there is a single formula producer that has the lion’s share of the market in each U.S. state. This results in poor adaptability when shifts in the market and production are needed.
The national out-of-stock average for baby formula is 23 percent, but in Texas, Tennessee, Montana, West Virginia, Nevada, Arizona, Kansas and Delaware, over half of all baby formula is out of stock, according to data from the end of May.
In the Thursday interview, Rep. Carter suggested that Biden had been misleading when he said on Wednesday that it wasn’t clear what effect shutting down the Abbott facility would have on the baby formula supply.
“The president is not being truthful here,” Rep. Carter said, noting that there was talk of problems at Abbott as far back as October. “The infant formula shortage has been building up for months,” Rep. Carter said.
An NBC essay published Tuesday included insights from a White House “adrift” saying Biden was “annoyed that he wasn’t alerted sooner about the baby formula shortage and that he got his first briefing in the past month.”
The essay claims Biden feels the constant effort by aides to walk back or refine unscripted statements “undermines him and smothers the authenticity that fueled his rise. Worse, it feeds a Republican talking point that he’s not fully in command.”