(Headline USA) The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it is providing logistical support to import the equivalent of about 16 million 8-ounce baby formula bottles from Mexico starting this weekend, as part of its efforts to ease nationwide supply shortages caused by the closure of the largest U.S. manufacturing plant.
It was an ironic development given early criticisms during the shortage that illegal immigrant detention centers were among the only places supplies of baby formula remained fully stocked, with pallets of government-subsidized shipments contributing to the empty shelves elsewhere.
The first photo is from this morning at the Ursula Processing Center at the U.S. border. Shelves and pallets packed with baby formula.
The second is from a shelf right here at home. Formula is scarce.
This is what America last looks like. pic.twitter.com/OO0V99njoy
— Kat Cammack (@Kat_Cammack) May 11, 2022
Trucks contracted by the Department of Health and Human Services will drive about 1 million pounds of Gerber Good Start Gentle infant formula from a Nestlé plant to U.S. retailers, the White House said, nearly doubling the amount imported to the U.S. to date.
Cargo flights from Europe and Australia already have brought baby formula into the U.S., including two new rounds of air shipments that begin this weekend.
It remained unclear, however, to what degree those imports had yet been disbursed to families in need. The announcement comes as the administration faced growing public scrutiny, with no new updates on the crisis for more than a month.
The White House claimed it has been working to make supply more available after regulators in February shuttered a Michigan plant run by Abbott that is the largest domestic manufacturer of baby formula over safety concerns.
The public outrage resulting from the foreseeable shortage was yet another in a litany of unforced errors casting an aura of incompetence and indifference over the Democrat administration that has inflicted serious damage on Biden’s approval ratings.
The plant reopened on June 4 after the company committed to additional sanitizing and safety protocols, but it shuttered again more than a week ago after severe weather caused damage to the plant.
The company said it needs time to assess damage and re-sanitize the factory after severe thunderstorms and heavy rains swept through southwestern Michigan on June 13.
Last month, the Food and Drug Administration moved to ease federal import regulations to allow baby formula to be shipped to the U.S., and Biden authorized the use of the Defense Production Act to provide federal support to move formula from overseas into the U.S.
Wednesday’s announcement also includes air shipments of 1.65 million 8-ounce bottle equivalents of Nestlé NAN Supremepro 2 infant formula from Germany to Texas this weekend, and 5.5 million 8-ounce bottle equivalents of Bubs infant formula in two shipments on June 26 and July 5.
The White House claims that by June 26, it efforts, dubbed “Operation Fly Formula,” will have brought 32 flights and almost 19 million 8-ounce bottle equivalents of infant formula into the U.S.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press