legislation temporarily waiving tariffs on imported formula in order to ease the crisis. But that order expired at the end of December without being renewed, making imports more expensive again.
Temporary waivers, offered during the peak of the crisis to low-income families receiving food assistance, expired at the end of February. That means the families will have significantly fewer options for which formula they are able to buy.
As the short-term fixes have ended, lawmakers still haven’t grappled with longer-term issues, like regulatory shortcomings and the dominance of only a few companies in the market. Three companies – Abbott, Reckitt and Gerber – control nearly all of the US formula market.
“We want to end exploitative marketing. We want to have better support for breastfeeding. We want to scale up and expand access to human milk and donor milk. All of those things can still happen at the same time as we also improve regulations for safety of commercial milk formula,” said Tomori
Breastfeeding is a very important way to nourish children, experts say, but it’s impeded by significant challenges. Widespread inequities, including a lack of paid leave and resources and rampant bias within the medical system, often undermine breastfeeding in the US. More support is needed at all stages, Tomori said.
Parents who use formula have grown weary of those who ask why they don’t simply breastfeed during the shortages. “It’s not that simple,” Abate said. “I would have loved to have just been able to breastfeed him from the beginning.” She tried desperately to increase her milk supply from the time her son was born early, but it simply wasn’t possible.