Migrant farmerworkers are crossing border searching for baby formula

Mid-South

(NewsNation) — Migrant farm workers are crossing the U.S.-Mexican border in search of baby formula, which is still in short supply, months after the federal government vowed to address the shortage.

Despite Abbott Nutrition’s resumption of baby formula production, and formula being flown in from around the world, nearly 22% of certain baby formula products were out of stock last week.

The executive director and co-founder of Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, Inc (National Farmworker Women’s Alliance), Mily Treviño-Sauceda said on NewsNation “Prime” the issue of mothers crossing the border was “true” and was making an already difficult situation tougher.

“It’s very unjust and it’s not new,” Trevino-Sauceda said. “Farming women grow and cultivate the food that we eat, yet, we can’t afford to feed our own families.”

Trevino-Sauceda says the problem can be even worse for undocumented workers, who account for about half of those represented by the Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, Inc.

Many of these mothers live in what are called “food deserts,” which means they have to travel long distances to find food and other essentials.

“Usually it takes 45 (minutes) to an hour one way to get to the place where there (are) supermarkets, because if there are convenient stores – you know how it is – the prices are actually higher for them to buy,” Trevino-Sauceda said. “And there is very little formula left.”

The transportation costs can also add up, especially for those without a vehicle who end up needing to pay extra to travel to places that still might not have the products they need. Inflation, supply chain issues, and a vulnerable world economy are not helping the cost of baby formula for consumers either.

“In some of the areas, it’s gone to what, $30 a can?” Trevino-Sauceda said. “These women are earning between $13,000 to $17,000 a year. Can you imagine that and trying to sustain a family and everything else and then having to pay these kind of high prices?”

There is hope for mothers who qualify for government aid through programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), but sometimes that aid doesn’t always help, according to Trevino-Sauceda.

“It does provide for some kind of support,” she said. “But they have very limited quantities of the specific formula and many more times, the women find that their children cannot drink the kind of formula they are provided. And many children have digestive issues and substituting the formula is not an option for them.”

Trevino-Sauceda recommends getting involved by fundraising for these mothers in need and pushing for the government to bring food and baby formula to rural communities that need it most.

NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” spoke with a top FDA official Friday, who said she expects things to be much improved by early to mid-August.

“The situation is improving. More formula is showing up on shelves,” said FDA Food Safety Director Susan Mayne.

Asked about a new timeline, Mayne said, “I would say by early to mid-August we should continue to see very significant improvement in on-shelf availability.”

Thursday, President Biden signed the “Formula Act” — a bipartisan bill that temporarily suspends tariffs on imported formula, potentially making the cost of formula 27% cheaper for families.

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