LaMalfa comments on water regulations, infant formula shortage

Doug LaMalfa

District 1 Congressman Doug LaMalfa recently released the following statement.

Last week, the California State Water Resources Control Board voted to adopt emergency drought regulations while acting on orders from Governor (Gavin)Newsom. These regulations ban watering non-residential decorative landscapes and require water suppliers to activate their local drought plans and prepare for shortages of up to 20 percent. These measures will vary for each area across our state. While discussing solutions to our state’s water shortage, it is important to consider that only 10 percent of our state’s total water goes to household ‘urban use,’ such as dishes, laundry, bathing or what landscape watering people still have left after previous restrictions. Cutting 20 percent of this type of water use will only save us about 2 percent of the total water resource in the state.

Meanwhile, the area that has yet to see any kind of meaningful reduction in usage is the one that has the largest allocation and uses 50 percent of our state’s total water: the environment. Fresh water is one of our most precious natural resources. It is essential to our lives, and that’s why we shouldn’t be flushing it out into the ocean. This limited resource would be far better served running through a hydroelectric power plant to produce affordable renewable energy and then used to grow food that is essential for human needs. Instead of utilizing our limited resources for good, it’s being wasted and sent out to sea.

Traditionally, agriculture uses about 40 percent of our state’s water supply, although it is usually cut to less. This water goes far beyond the farm. Water allocated to agriculture travels throughout our state while providing wetland habitat and recreation use. The irrigated water is used to grow crops to feed and sustain our nation. Farmers employ workers to help them plant and harvest, and most operations work with financial institutions through their local bankers and lenders. The engineers, mechanics, and manufactures who build and maintain their equipment relies on their business. Truckers move the product across the country, filling up grocery store shelves and are then purchased by consumers.

This cycle is the foundation of our entire economy. A nation with food security thrives and allows other industries to grow and prosper. Without a steady food supply, we would be endlessly dependent on and indebted to other nations. Our technology, manufacturing, defense, financial, and trade industries would not look like they do now.

Facing the infant formula shortage
It is beyond belief that the United States, the land of plenty, is struggling to stock its shelves with infant formula. The fact that parents across the nation are unable to feed their newborns due to a formula shortage is horrifying and completely unacceptable. This inexcusable shortage has been created through bureaucratic regulations and unresponsiveness by the FDA as to the remedy that shut down the largest formula producer in the nation for months and was exacerbated by poorly planned replacement supply via import policies or otherwise.

It’s also extremely concerning that the Biden Administration admitted to having knowledge for months that this crisis would occur, and yet they failed to act until shelves were bare and chaos was ensuing. No parent should have to worry about their ability to feed their child. This national crisis calls for swift, immediate action to ensure that parents can get the formula they need as soon as possible. It’s actually embarrassing that we have to send military aircraft under an emergency to foreign countries to make a hyper-expensive food run, for baby formula due to incompetence at FDA and the Administration.

Recently, the House considered several bills aimed at fixing the issue. I voted in support of the Access to Baby Formula Act to allow the USDA to issue emergency waivers for WIC participants in the event of a supply disruption, such as is happening now. This bill temporarily removes agency regulations on the brand and quantity of baby formula that WIC participants can purchase. I also signed on as a cosponsor of the Formula Act of 2022, which would allow the United States to immediately import formula that meets our current nutritional standards, expanding the supply available here in the states and alleviating the strains of the shortage. I believe that temporarily importing quality infant formula is the best course of action until we can get our production plants up and running again to end the shortage.

Due to the ambiguous, poorly written, and fast-tracked language of the Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriations Act, I did not support this piece of legislation. This bill does not actually address the supply shortage, bring in product from other countries or expedite the reviewal and reopening process of the shutdown plant; it only hands the FDA a $28 million blank check, most likely to be used on bureaucrat’s salaries. Without any clear guidelines on how that money will be efficiently and effectively used, coupled with the fact that the agency would not see the money for months, it is clear that this legislation addressed the issue in name only, likely as a political wedge. Additionally, this money will be used on top of the $11 million increase for infant health and nutrition they received in March’s Omnibus after they were aware the shortage would occur if not acted upon.

While it should be inconceivable that an infant formula shortage would occur in the United States, we find ourselves here nonetheless. Every reasonable step must be taken to make sure our children are fed and healthy. That begins with fast acting legislation that allows for immediate relief on our supply chain and for our nation’s parents. My team and I are closely monitoring the situation and remain ready to support immediate and sensible solutions within my jurisdiction.