Wisconsin has two avenues for selling homemade food: this ruling, which allows the sale of nonperishable baked goods, and the pickle bill, which allows the sale of some types of canned goods.
Under this ruling, home cooks can only sell nonperishable baked goods directly to anyone in the state, and there is no limit on how much they can sell.
Wisconsin is the only state that allows cottage food sales due to a lawsuit.
Because there are no official regulations for home bakers in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Farmers Union created wisconsincottagefood.com, which provides excellent and reasonable guidance for home bakers. All home bakers should read through that entire website. There is also a Facebook page which provides updates.
Only nonperishable baked goods are allowed.
Wisconsin also has a pickle bill, which allows you to sell up to $5,000/year of jams, jellies, fruit butters, acidified foods (e.g. pickles, salsas, etc), and other home-canned goods.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
"This product was made in a private home not subject to state licensing or inspection"
Forrager Cookie Company
123 Chewy Way, Cookietown, WI 73531
Ingredients: enriched flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), butter (cream, salt), semi-sweet chocolate (sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, milkfat, soy lecithin, natural flavors), brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, vanilla extract (vanilla bean extract, alcohol, sugar), baking soda, salt (salt, calcium silicate)
Contains: milk, eggs, wheat, soy
Produced on 9/27/2023
There are NO current requirements for labeling, but the Wisconsin Farmers Union strongly recommends following the labeling requirements in the pickle bill, which is shown above. Again, this is optional, but highly recommended.
Wisconsin tried to change their pickle bill for many years, but they were always thwarted by strong political efforts from the Wisconsin Bakers Association and the Wisconsin Grocer’s Association, which were concerned about competition. It made no sense that Wisconsin would allow canned goods (which are relatively risky) and not allow baked goods (some of the least risky foods).
With multiple unsuccessful attempts at changing the law (2013 AB 182 & 2015 SB 330), the restriction for home bakers was finally overturned by a lawsuit against the state ag department, which took over two years to come to a full resolution. This successful group effort involved plaintiffs Lisa Kivirist (author of Homemade For Sale), Kriss Marion, and Dela Ends, along with legal support from the Institute for Justice.
Even after the successful lawsuit, the ag department and associations didn’t back down easily. From 2017 to 2021, they tried to:
- Claim that the lawsuit only allowed the three plaintiffs (Lisa, Kriss & Dela) to sell home baked goods
- Impose a $5k sales limit on bakers
- Claim that the term “non-hazardous baked goods” was not sufficiently clear
- Claim that the term “baked goods” only meant items containing flour
In fact, at one point, a judge clearly became annoyed at their continued efforts to restrict home bakers.
Then in February 2021, advocates in the state filed yet another lawsuit to allow all non-baked non-perishable foods as well. In December 2022, the lawsuit appeared to succeed based on a court judge’s ruling, and people could finally start selling any non-perishable food. However, once again the ag department challenged the case, and in May 2023, the ban on non-baked goods was temporarily reimposed until the courts determine the ultimate outcome of the case.
Wisconsin is the only state that has enabled cottage food sales through a lawsuit. Minnesota also tried in 2013, which likely influenced the passage of their new and improved law a couple of years later. Lawsuits have also been created in New Jersey, North Dakota, and Nebraska.
Although Wisconsin doesn’t have a cottage food law, a bill may be passed in the future (previously 2017 SB 271 was attempted), which would clarify (and probably slightly restrict) the current allowances.