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Questions and Answers about the WIC AFBA Final Rule with Request for Comments

Resource type
Technical Assistance & Guidance
Technical Assistance

General Questions

1. Why is FNS revising WIC regulations and what are the goals of the final rule?

In July of 2022, the Access to Baby Formula Act of 2022 (ABFA, PL 117-129) was signed into law. This rule implements the provisions of ABFA and several other related changes to strengthen WIC’s ability to address certain disasters, emergencies, and supply chain disruptions, particularly those impacting infant formula.

2. What are the main changes in the rule and how will they benefit WIC participants?

The rule will:

  • Provide permanent authority for USDA to issue waivers in the event of certain emergencies, disasters, or supply chain disruptions, which will allow state agencies to better meet the needs of WIC participants during program disruptions;
  • Require infant formula cost containment contracts include remedies in the event of an infant formula recall that will help participants access infant formula in the event of an infant formula recall; and
  • Require state agencies to develop alternate operating procedures that can be used to mitigate the impacts of a disaster, emergency or supply chain disruption on WIC participants and program operations.
3. Where can I find the WIC regulations impacted by the rule?

WIC regulations impacted by this rule can be found at 7 CFR 246.2; 246.4(a)(30); 246.16a(c)(5); 7 CFR 246.16a(n); and 7 CFR 246.29.

4. How did FNS come up with the changes in the final rule?

Many of these changes are required by the Access to Baby Formula Act of 2022 (ABFA, PL 117-129) or are changes related to the implementation of ABFA and are intended to strengthen WIC’s ability to respond to a future crisis. Given the prescriptive nature of ABFA and the need for swift implementation, USDA considered input previously gathered from stakeholders during FNS’s response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency and infant formula supply chain disruption. We will continue to seek input to ensure the implementation of this rule supports the WIC population and achieves the intended results.

5. When will these changes go into effect?

This final rule will take effect 60 days after publication. WIC state agencies will have additional time to develop alternate operating procedures.

6. Why is this a final rule with request for comment and not a proposed rule?

FNS is implementing the changes as a final rule with request for comment given the need for swift implementation of ABFA and to provide state agencies with the mechanisms to address a disruption to program services that could occur at any time.

7. Who can comment on the rule and how can they do it?

Anyone (individuals and groups) can submit a comment on the rule. FNS is interested in hearing from all of program stakeholders, including members of the public, and encourages comment from anyone interested in or affected by the rule’s provisions.

Comments may be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov and locate the rule by searching “Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC): Implementation of the Access to Baby Formula Act of 2022 and Related Provisions,” or follow this link. There are instructions on the platform that will tell you how to submit your comment.

8. What is the deadline for submitting a comment?

Written comments and electronic comments submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal must be received on or before Feb. 12, 2024.

9. If the rule is final, what effect will my comments have?

FNS is requesting comments on specific topics to inform future rulemaking, policy, and/or guidance related to infant formula. However, FNS will consider comments on all aspects of the rule when developing guidance and policy to support implementation of this rule.

10. Where can I go to learn more about the rule?

The rule was published in the Federal Register, here: https://www.federalregister.gov. There are also several supporting documents to the rule that can be accessed through that link. Additional information can be found at https://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/fr-121423.

11. Where can I go to learn more about WIC or infant formula in WIC?

To learn more about WIC, please visit https://www.fns.usda.gov/wic.

For information about infant formula in WIC, please visit https://www.fns.usda.gov/fs/infant-formula. For specific information on infant formula cost containment contracts, please see https://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/requirements-infant-formula-contracts.

 

 

Page updated: December 18, 2023