2021 is a fresh start in so many ways, but as always, a new year means a new round of cottage food bills!
And what a big round it is! At least one-third of states are actively working on improving their cottage food law this year.
I actually can’t remember a year when there were this many cottage food amendments on the table. It reminds me of nearly a decade ago, when states were busy creating their initial cottage food laws.
In all likelihood, the pandemic, and the resulting surge of interest in cottage foods, is part of the push to improve the laws in many states.
WOW… what a year it has been for our growing cottage food industry!
As I wrote about last year, the pandemic really highlighted the need for people to be able to sell their homemade food.
And in 2021, states responded in a BIG way! This year, more states improved their laws for selling homemade food than in any other year in history.
Last week, on September 16th, 2021, California’s governor signed AB 1144, a cottage food bill that will improve California’s cottage food law.
It is the last of 17 cottage food initiatives that have passed in 2021 (the most of any year, by far).
This amendment was long overdue, as California had not amended their law since 2013!
But did I ever think I would be the one spearheading CA’s next cottage food law improvement? Definitely not!
After a 12 year battle, New Jersey finally has a cottage food law! They are the last state to create one, and they will be the last state to get the “pending” status on Forrager’s map.
Although the new cottage food rules passed on July 12th, they will not take effect until the rules get published by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL).
In other words, this law isn’t usable just yet. And once the law gets published (likely by mid-September), it’s not entirely clear how long it will take for the health department to start approving permits.
With over half of the states working on improving their cottage food law, 2021 already has been the biggest year ever for cottage food developments. New Jersey’s law is a big fat cherry on top of all of that!
2020 was not just a year full of changes for the nation and world.
It was also a year which changed the cottage food industry… sometimes for the worse, but mostly for the better.
There were a number of important storylines this year, and surprisingly, many of them were not pandemic-related.
In this year-end recap, I’ll give my take on the major events of 2020 that related to the cottage food industry.
Recently I was asked to briefly describe how COVID-19 has impacted the cottage food industry this year. Here’s what I wrote:
“The pandemic has impacted everyone differently, but it has impacted everyone. Some cottage food businesses have shut down temporarily or permanently, while just as many others have seen their sales skyrocket. More cottage food businesses started this year than any other by far, and overall, the pandemic has caused a huge surge of interest in this industry.”
That’s a very simplified view of what has been a crazy and complex year.
In this post, I’ll dig into some of the major trends and story lines that impacted the cottage food industry in 2020.
It’s July 1st, 2020, and for the first time in over 7 years, I’ve added a new rank to Forrager’s map. I named it “freedom”, and Wyoming has the honor of being the first state to reach this status!
As of today, Wyoming’s new amendment (HB 84) to their food freedom law takes effect, and it’s a big one. Because although their 2015 law has always been the best food freedom law in the country, truthfully, it still lagged behind some of the best cottage food laws in some ways.
North Dakota’s food freedom law regresses into a good cottage food law, after the state health department created new rules and limits.
If you want to learn more about your state’s cottage food law, or better understand how this site was made, this post will give you ideas for how to research and update a law on Forrager.
California’s new law (AB 626) has some lofty goals, but some of the bill language will keep it from making much of an impact. Cottage food bills have made some mistakes over and over again, preventing them from achieving their full potential.
Is the aroma of sweet victory coming from the ovens of Wisconsin wafting your way? Here in our state we can finally – legally – sell homemade, non-hazardous baked goods. Or more specifically, it took over five years, three cottage food bills that never passed and a successful lawsuit so that here in Wisconsin we… [read more]
If you want to start a home food business, there are a number of potential limitations that you should be aware of. Learn about the different limitations that states may include in their cottage food laws.
Many states limit the amount of homemade food that you can sell. Learn about why sales limits exist, how they’re enforced, and why they shouldn’t stop your food business from taking off.
In most states, you can only sell certain types of homemade food. Most cottage food laws only allow nonperishable food items, but some states allow almost all types of food, while other states are very restrictive. Learn about what types of homemade food products you can sell under your cottage food law.
When starting a home food business, you will likely need to deal with the health or ag department. Learn about what you should be aware of when contacting these departments.
Zoning laws may be the largest barrier to starting your cottage food business. Learn about why zoning laws exist and what you can do to comply with them.
For most of us, starting a business isn’t easy. Let’s say you want to start your home food business — what do you do? Depending on where you live, there could be any number of barriers between you and your first sale. Learn about a couple of the first steps to take when starting a cottage food operation.
I had a simple goal: sell my homemade chocolate fudge at the farmers market this summer. How complicated could it be? Turns out that if the government has anything to say about it, the answer is “very complicated”. My experience is just one simple example of why cottage food laws can make a huge difference in a community.
Wyoming has tested the waters of food freedom for a year. Are people using their food freedom law, and if so, is it negatively impacting the public health? Is this the future of the cottage food movement?
Democracy is essential to the freedom to earn a livelihood by selling homemade food products.
I recently received a few questions from Sid, a student at the University of Tampa who’s doing some research on the cottage food industry. The questions are high-level enough that I realized they’d make a good blog post, so I’m sharing my answers here.
Cottage food operations often get frustrated by health departments, who can be slow, uncommunicative, and sometimes downright unfriendly. Do health departments really dislike the cottage food industry as much as people think they do?
Yes, food freedom is real. The term has become increasingly popular: you may have heard it around the dinner table, at farmers markets, or even at a food freedom fest. This catchphrase of locavore culture has become so common that, until recently, you may have thought it to be a real thing. Proponents of food… [read more]
Live in a state with no cottage food law? Get one passed. If your state law is limited, you’ll need to amend an existing cottage food law. Here’s how.
UPDATE: This initiative did not pass again, but hopefully they will try next year. Soon after it failed, Wyoming successfully passed the Wyoming Food Freedom Act, making them the first state to deregulate almost all direct sales of homemade food. Fox News just aired a segment with Bernadette Barber, who has been heading up the Virginia… [read more]
Half a year after publishing a detailed report of California’s cottage food law, the Institute for Justice has now published a new report about the amended cottage food law in Texas. It gives a thorough overview of their current law and gives some good examples of people that are using it successfully. One of the more… [read more]
The Institute for Justice has published a report titled “The Attack on Food Freedom“, which feeds off the rising trend of saying no to excessive government regulation in the food industry. The report aims to relate current food laws to the food regulations put in place by Britain in the 18th century, suggesting that the… [read more]
Real Food Real Talk interviewed a number of the key players surrounding the cottage food law in California. Their podcast, Home Cooking Your Way To Your Own Food Business, does a good job of summarizing the progress of the cottage food industry in that state.
Forbes just published an article detailing California’s cottage food industry in its first year. Most notably, the research found that at least a thousand CFOs have been started already!
Another food entrepreneur’s dream (in this case, an 11-year-old girl) gets shut down by the government. Maybe it’s time to get Illinois’ cottage food law amended! Is this girl really hazardous to the public health? As Kathleen mentioned below, coincidentally, a campaign for an improved cottage food law in Illinois just begun. Show your support by… [read more]
UPDATE: This bill was initially tabled, and has now been abandoned Virginia has a new bill filed for the next legislative session (HB 135), call the “Virginia Food Freedom Act”, which is trying to go where no cottage food law has gone before! Its basic premise is to allow home cooks to make any kind of… [read more]
A couple bakers in Minnesota, along with the Institute of Justice, have just taken the state’s Department of Agriculture by surprise. As part of IJ’s Food Freedom Initiative, they are filing a lawsuit that is designed to question the very premise of the cottage food law in Minnesota. But in the bigger picture, they are… [read more]
A new research paper, titled Cottage Food Laws in the United States, by Alli Condra, has been published by the Food Law and Policy Clinic at Harvard University. The goal of the paper was to create a comprehensive overview of the cottage food industry, including what is allowed in different states, how to create a… [read more]
Can you sell homemade food? The short answer is… probably, if your state allows it. Most states have cottage food laws in place, but there are still some things you should check before getting started.