Cottage Food Laws are part of the sustainable living, eat local movement. It is past time that food artisans are allowed to start a business producing non hazardous baked goods, jams, dry mixes, coffees and more. The laws prohibiting small business startups in this economy is part of the problem in our country today. People need a way to generate income, and the substantial investment needed to build a commercial kitchen is out of reach of many people today.
In thirty one states, small business enterprises are starting up providing homemade food to the local community. Hooray for those states. If you are lucky enough to live in one of those states, what are you waiting for? If you don’t know where to start, you might want to take a look at the business start up class I teach on helping non profits with fundraising. If you would just like to do some brainstorming, I would like to invite you to enroll in the free mini webinars. I am going to answer questions, brainstorm ideas you may have, and teach lessons I have learned along the way. What do you have to lose? It may be just what you need to launch your business that you know you have been dreaming of. You can register for those free group coaching sessions by clicking on that link.
Want Cottage Food Laws in Your State?
Step up and start a petition, yes, I mean you. I know it will take awhile, but the fact that so many other states have paved the way and set the precedent makes it much easier. Because other states have the laws in place, there is evidence that it has not been harmful to the general public.
There are lots of things you can do. You can start talking about it in all the social media sites. Find forums where they are talking about wanting to bake at home for profit. Here are links to a few you might want to check out.
- Wilton forums
- Ron Paul Discussion Forum
- Homesteading Today
- Farmers Market Coalition
- Green Wizards Forums
Start writing your state Representatives, they are the ones who would have to introduce a bill. Look at the other bills in other states, provide a sample template for them, the easier it is for them, the more likely it is they would consider giving it a try. Present it with a petition that has a lot of authentic signatures, and you may be on your way. Here is a sample petition I found online.
This is a sample petition where they have almost reached their goal to submit to the OK Governor and Representatives. There are other samples as well, but I thought this was interesting because it is pushing for a higher earnings cap, which I think makes a lot of sense.
To be delivered to: The Oklahoma State House, The Oklahoma State Senate, and Governor Mary Fallin
This petition requests your signature to ask the State of Oklahoma to pass a Cottage Law similar to the State of Texas, allowing home bakeries to sale their baked goods to the public without having to be meet the same requirements as a licensed, commercial bakery as long as the Net Annual Sales is $50,000 or less.
This petition is requesting that Oklahoma pass a law to allow home baked and/or canned goods to be sold publicly. We are requesting a bill similar to the state of Texas in which we could sell goods with a Gross Annual Sales of $50,000 a year or less. The Health Department would not have to intervene since we would not be required to be a licensed, commercial kitchen. We would have to register with the Health Deapartment. However, those purchasing and selling goods from their home would have to make it known that it was from a “home bakery.”
In addition, you have laws you can read and use as a jumping off point. In California, they are fighting the battle right now. They even have the following sample letter they invite their readers to use.
Dear [insert Assemblymember / Senator‘s name]
I’m writing to ask you to co-author the California Homemade Food Act, AB 1616, recently introduced by Assemblymember Mike Gatto. AB 1616, similar to the “cottage food laws” in 31 other US states, will allow for the sale of non-potentially hazardous foods prepared in a home kitchen. This will enable individuals to supplement their income during these hard economic times and will provide communities with access to more local, homemade, and specialty foods. Additionally, it will provide opportunities for small-scale farmers to sell value-added products.
Anyone who has looked into the options for renting commercial kitchens knows that they can cost $30 per hour or more, if such kitchens are even available for rent nearby. Building a commercial kitchen with all the necessary equipment for basic washing, baking, cooking, and storage can easily cost over $100,000. This is, in part, due to the strict requirements for necessary plumbing and equipment that must be used in commercial kitchens. These expenses are prohibitive for aspiring small, community-based food producers.
[Insert any additional reasons why a cottage food law would specifically benefit you and/or your community]
I hope you will co-author the California Homemade Food Act, AB 1616. Thank you for giving my request the strongest consideration at a time when my community and our state really need this bill.
[insert your name and address]
The fact of the matter is that the Cottage Food Laws in each state started because someone took the initiative to start the movement toward passing the law. It is so much easier now because there is information readily available. You can use the law of another state as an example to present to your law makers. You have social media at your fingertips. Other states have started Fan Pages, and tweet chats. You can do that too! Don’t wait until tomorrow, just think, you too may have the possibility of baking from home legally, and earning income for your family.
Photo credit: darrenjsylvester