Wisconsin is a lucky state. That is because Lisa Kivirist, a co-author of Homemade For Sale, lives there, and without her dedication and rallying others’ support, it is quite possible that the below allowance for selling homemade baked goods would not exist.
Wisconsin tried to change their law for many years, but they were always thwarted by strong politic efforts from the Wisconsin Bakers Association and the Wisconsin Grocer’s Association, which were concerned about competition. What is most curious about this state is that they already had a pickle bill, which allows for the sale of home-canned goods (products with higher food safety risks).
With many 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, which took over two years to come to a full resolution. Kivirist led this successful effort with fellow plaintiffs Kriss Marion and Dela Ends, with legal support from Erica Smith at the Institute for Justice. The opposition from the associations were so strong that the judge had to clarify his ruling twice, and clearly became annoyed at their efforts to restrict home bakers.
Wisconsin joins Minnesota as the only states that created an allowance for cottage foods through a lawsuit. It is also now one of a handful of states that has no law allowing cottage food operations (and doesn’t need one). However, a bill like 2017 SB 271 may be passed in the future, which would clarify (and probably slightly restrict) the current allowances.
For now, home cooks can sell their non-PHF baked goods directly to anyone in the state, and there is no limit on how much they can sell. Cooks can also sell home-canned goods by using the pickle bill.
Because there is no official regulation for home bakers in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Farmers Union created wisconsincottagefood.com, which provides excellent and reasonable guidance for home cooks. All home bakers should read through that entire website. There is also a Facebook page with provides updates.
All of your products must be baked goods that are non-PHFs (do not require refrigeration). If your product is not a baked good, OR if it requires refrigeration, it is not allowed under this law. You can sell up to $5,000 of home-canned goods by using the pickle bill. If you are unsure about whether your product is a non-PHF, you can get it tested in a lab for about $25. You are allowed to make basic frostings for your baked items. Frostings that contain cream or eggs, and require refrigeration, are not allowed.
Although you do not need any licensing or permission from the state to start your business, your local town or county may have requirements for home-based businesses.
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 6/1/2020
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.