• The Executive Office of the President recently released the Spring 2019 Unified Agenda. As we described in our post for the release of the Fall 2018 Unified Agenda, twice a year, federal agencies publish this comprehensive report describing regulations currently under development or recently completed. The agenda provides stakeholders with a preview of agencies’ top regulatory priorities for the coming months.
  • The agenda includes significant regulatory undertakings by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Of particular note for USDA is the hemp production program rule, which the Unified Agenda indicates will be released as an interim final rule in August 2019. As readers of this blog may recall, the 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, and assigned regulation of the growth of hemp to the states with oversight by USDA. The Secretary of USDA, Sonny Purdue announced in March his intent to have a final rule in place in late 2019 in time for the 2020 growing season. Though many were skeptical due to the time generally required to promulgate a regulation, if USDA adheres to its estimated completion date of August 2019 (estimated completion dates for regulations published in the Unified Agenda are often inaccurate), Mr. Purdue’s promise may be fulfilled. Other USDA regulatory priorities include USDA’s National Organic Program plan to strengthen oversight of organic imports to deter fraud, enhance enforcement and protect organic integrity and swine slaughter inspection.
  • Interim FDA commissioner Sharpless, in an FDA Voice blog, highlighted several of the agency’s proposed regulatory actions related to tobacco and standards of identity for food. The Unified Agenda includes several actions related to tobacco products, including implementing safety standards for Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems, product standards for characterizing flavors in cigars and nicotine levels in products. As was also the case in the Fall 2018 Unified Agenda, FDA still plans to update the definition of the claim “healthy” on food labels, to revoke outdated standards of identity for French salad dressing and frozen cherry pie, and to reopen the comment period (expected September 2019) on the proposed rule establishing general principles to update the framework for standards of identity. FDA also continues to state that they will issue a proposed rule on the revocation of uses of partially hydrogenated oils in food, a final rule on gluten-free labeling of fermented, hydrolyzed, or distilled foods, and a final rule regarding the soy protein and coronary heart disease health claim. A new item on the Spring 2019 Unified Agenda includes a final rule regarding calorie labeling for foods sold from certain vending machines and front of package type size.