How will the Defense Production Act affect formula shortage?

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President Joe Biden speaks at the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service on the West Front of the Capitol in Washington, Sunday, May 15, 2022, honoring the law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty in 2021. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

(NewsNation) — The Defense Production Act has been around for decades, and most recently, President Joe Biden invoked it to jumpstart production of baby formula during a nationwide shortage of it.

The Act, created in the 1950s, allows the president to allocate materials, services and facilities in the interest of national defense. Under the Defense Production Act, the president has the authority to offer incentives to private companies to increase production and prioritize shipment and orders from the federal government.

According to the New York Times, these incentives can mean issuing loans, controlling the distribution of a company’s products, and most commonly: making companies prioritize the government’s orders over other clients.

This means suppliers will be required to direct needed resources to infant formula manufacturers before any other customers. In addition, Biden authorized the Defense Department to use commercial aircraft to fly formula supplies that meet federal standards from overseas to the U.S. The White House is calling it “Operation Fly Formula.”

Biden’s announcement comes two days after the Food and Drug Administration said it was streamlining its review process to make it easier for foreign manufacturers to begin shipping more formula into the U.S.

“Imports of baby formula will serve as a bridge to this ramped-up production,” Biden wrote.

Over the years, the Pentagon estimates it’s used the Defense Production Act to fill more than 300,000 orders of different items the military and federal government needs.

This includes everything from supplies for Air Force One to the production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has also used it for water during natural disasters.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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