U of M Extension Enews Info

The University of Minnesota Extension has the June issue of the Cottage Food Connection out. Among other things this issue talks about why some foods are considered potentially hazardous and showcases a wonderful young man named Rasmus Bregendahl, The Danish Baker.

If you haven’t already signed up, the Cottage Food Connection Enews is a great way to learn what’s new, explore food safety issues, get to know other cottage food producers, find out what cottage food producers are curious about and access resources worth exploring.

It’s a quarterly newsletter. Read the June 2018 issue here.

Sign up to receive the emails here.

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Bill Update

The 2018 MN Legislature has come to a close. Unfortunately our bill did not make it through the conference committee. We want to thank everyone who worked to get the bill as far as it did go. The political process is never quick and easy. We will continue to work towards our goals but in the meanwhile we are thankful for what we have already accomplished over the years. May you all have a successful summer!

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March 22, 2018

Happy Spring you all! In addition to my report about yesterday, Great Day In St. Paul!, I have a few other updates.

First of all we want to congratulate Kentucky on their cottage food bill being amended yesterday. Up until now only farmer’s could sell non-potentially hazardous foods at farmer’s market and road sides. As of yesterday cottage food producers now includes anyone selling from their homes direct to the consumer. Congratulations and way to go Kentucky! Check out their Facebook page: Kentucky Home Bakers

The University of Minnesota Extension has published their March 2018 issue of Cottage Food Connections a very nice and informative newsletter about things happening with the Minnesota Cottage Food Industry. Here’s the link for the March newsletter: Cottage Food Connection. You can sign up to receive the newsletter in your emails here.

It is important to remember that your Senators and Representatives want to hear from you their constituents. It is important that they hear your story and it’s even better if they can see a face to go with that story. If you have time to make an appointment to speak with them please do. If you need any help or have questions just contact us either through email, mncottagefoodlaw@gmail.com or just message us through our Facebook page, MN Cottage Food Law.

Have a great day!

Great Day In St. Paul!

Yesterday a group of Cottage Food Producers spent the day at the capitol to talk about the two items that need to be amended. Those two items being the LLC and cap issues. We had a great time meeting each other, some of us for the first time, before venturing out together to meet with many of our Minnesota House Representatives and Senators. In attendance was Jennifer Carriveau, Kaylynn Finke, Karen Peterson, Dawn Olson-Wallerus, Debra Behrends, Ashely Boeshans, Baby Boeshans (Who is the best baby ever!) and me, Shelley Erickson.

Our plan was to meet with our own District Senators and Representatives and then to stop in to see as many others as we could.

However, just before we got started on our rounds, unexpectedly Rep. Newberger asked us to meet him at the door to the House Chambers. We then went with him to their lounge where we set several boxed cupcakes on their tables and chatted with a few of the Representatives there. After that we were ushered onto the floor of the chamber and we stood at the front to have our picture taken. We were then asked to go up and sit in the balcony so that we could be introduced. So we did. After the prayer, pledge and calling of the bill numbers, the speaker said that Rep. Newberger had an item of business to discuss. Rep. Newberger then said something like, “Today is Cottage Foods Day and we have some of the Cottage Food ladies with us. They brought all of those cupcakes and we should thank them.” We stood up and the whole entire Minnesota House of Representatives stood up, clapped and waved at us. It was definitely an experience. Most importantly we were able to reach all of the Representatives at once. That was amazing!

After that we went over to the Senator’s Offices Building. Most of them were on their way to committee meetings but we were able to speak with Sen. Dibble for a few minutes and thank him for all of his work and for supporting us. He is always so kind and gracious. We then split up to go to our district Senators. I went with Debra to speak to Sen. Wiger. He was so nice and even offered to co-author the bill if necessary. In fact that is pretty much how the entire day went. Everyone we spoke to was very kind and supportive. We didn’t stop until about 3:00 pm. It was a long day but we all left feeling cheerful and that it was well worth it.

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Here we are! All ready to venture forth on our mission.

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Bowing our heads in the House of Representatives.

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What an honor to stand here with these ladies and Rep. Newberger.

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Sen. Wiger & Debra Behrends

March 2018

Happy March Everyone! I have some exciting things to share today. As I’m sure you all know the 2018 MN Legislative Session has begun and there are a two issues we are going to address this year. First of all we want to have the ability to become LLC’s if we choose to and secondly we would like to see the cap raised. Rep. Newberger and Sen. Dibble are once again working on this bill for us. We are so thankful to have their help with this. You can PM the MN Cottage Food Law FaceBook page if you’d like information on how to help get this law passed.

I’m super excited to announce that Suzanne Driessen and her team at the University of Minnesota Extension will be launching a Cottage Foods Newsletter next week. It’s going to have lots of information about the cottage food industry and each issue will feature a current registered cottage food producer. As soon as it is published I will post the link to it.

You can also sign up to receive email alerts from the U of M Extension for upcoming food safety meetings and events with this link: Join Our Email List 

Just a reminder, if you are a registered cottage food producer we have a MN Registered Cottage Food Producers chat group on Facebook that has a lot of interesting information and discussions. Please click the link to join: MN Registered Cottage Food Producers Group

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Feb. 27, 2018

Hello everyone! I do try to write an update every month but February just flew by and in just 21 days it’ll already be spring. Which all Minnesotans know is just the beginning of the last six weeks of our winter season, if we’re lucky. 🙂

By now I believe everyone has seen the notice posted by the Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture warning cottage food producers to be aware of fraudulent MDA agents. Just in case you didn’t here’s the link: Important Information

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The MDA has been doing a great job updating the cottage food information on their website. I think it’s easier to navigate now.

I noticed a few changes that I wasn’t aware of before. I hadn’t seen that one time bake sales, etc. were specifically addressed before, that was good to see. FYI, if you are just holding a one time church, religious or educational bake sale and do not regularly sell cottage foods, you do not have to register.

In the past we were required to write our full address on our labels. This was a cause for concern with many of the cottage food producers. Now a PO Box address is accepted on your labels. Your actual address is still required when you register with the MDA.

Click here to check out the MDA’s Cottage Foods Guidance and FAQ’s.

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And I saved the best news for last! Online Registration is new and improved! I received this message from Carrie Rigdon at the MDA who does a great job for us. Thanks Carrie for all you do!

New cottage food producers can now register online. This includes folks who need to file a new registration because they have moved or are changing their sales tier level. While we have had online “renewals” for a while, we now have the online option for new registrations. There are a few things I want to point out:

1)      Everyone should remember to take the training *before* they register. For those who are registering under Tier 2 (annual sales of $5000 or above), this would be the online or in-person course that the University of Minnesota offers. Once they register and pay the registration fee, our administrator will confirm with the U that they have taken the course before completing the registration process. The training is good for 3 years.

2)      People who register for Tier 2 online should also be aware of a 2.5% convenience fee that US Bank charges for all MDA online license and registration transactions. This does not apply to Tier 1 applications, since the registration fee is waived for those selling less than $5000/year.

3)      Online registration is optional. Cottage food producers can still register or re-register using the paper-based form.

Click this ink for: New Applications

Click here for: Renewal Applications

Applicants can navigate to these screens from the MDA home page by clicking on the LICENSING tab, then selecting Online Licensing & Renewals, and clicking on either the “I need to RENEW” or the “I need to apply” links. (Note: the Online Licensing & Renewals page does not currently list Cottage Food. That page is being updated but the functionality is currently live.)

I’m looking forward to a really great 2018 for the Cottage Foods Industry. Good luck everyone!

 

Important Information

Attention please, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture has issued this important warning to everyone seeking to become a registered cottage foods producer. Please take note, be aware and please pass this information on to others.

The MDA was recently informed that someone may be fraudulently posing as an MDA inspector and collecting cash payments for fake cottage food registrations. Individuals who want to sell their cottage food in Minnesota can learn about the steps to get registered on MDA’s website (http://www.mda.state.mn.us/cottagefood).

Registration does NOT require an inspection and if you are contacted by an MDA inspector recommending that you need to register, ask to see their ID badge. This badge will display their full name and include their photograph. MDA inspectors won’t ask for payment in cash for cottage food registrations. All Cottage Food Registrations made directly to an MDA inspector will receive a receipt for the transaction.

If you have questions about cottage foods registration please call 651-201-6081.

Happy New Year!

2018 has arrived in all it’s freezing glory! I know it’s not as cold as it can be here in our lovely state of Minnesota, but for some reason the chill factor seems worse than usual. I hope you all had a lovely holiday season. I know many of you had a lot of business and hopefully you will get a few weeks break before thinking about those Valentine’s Day orders.

A quick reminder, if you haven’t re-registered yet you must do that right away. Your 2017 registrations expired on Dec. 31st, 2017. As of today we already have 745 renewed registrations so it looks like the online process is working smoothly. We want to thank the folks at the MDA for making that work so well. If you are new to the cottage food industry and would be interested in becoming a cottage food producer, you can register at the Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture website: Cottage Food Producer Registration

Suzanne Driessen sent me the list of upcoming food safety classes for 2018. You will find them in the events section on our MN Cottage Food Law Facebook page and also on the U of M Extension website.  If you are interested in taking a class but can’t find one near you, please let Suzanne know. You can also take the online food safety classes which can be found at these links:

Tier 1, $0 – $5000.00. This class must be completed when you register.

Tier 2, $5001.00 – $18,000.00. Advanced Training must be completed when you reach Tier 2 status.

Even though it is super cold outside there are still several indoor farmer’s markets and vendor events going on. In my surrounding area there is Maple Grove, Monticello, Big Lake and Princeton winter farmer’s markets. If you’d like to find the one nearest you click on this link from the Minnesota Grown website. Just type in your zip code and you will see all of the winter markets in your area. By the way, if you aren’t already following their website, Minnesota Grown has a lot of interesting and useful information.
Minnesota Grown Directory

I try to share articles that are written about our Cottage Food Producers as often as I can. I’m afraid I do not always see them and for that I apologize. Today I would like to share with you a newspaper article written about our MN Cottage Food Producer Ruth Francour of Aunt Ruth’s Goods. Congratulations Ruth! Local Artisan Profile, MankatoLife

That’s all I have for now. Stay warm and have an amazing year!

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Registration Renewal Update

Hello folks! I just want to give you a quick update about your cottage food producer’s re-registration. By now those of you who have been waiting for your registration renewal letters should have received them. They are very easy to fill out online. Just follow the step-by-step instructions printed on the yellow page.

One thing to note, Step #4 asks for your “License Number”, that should say “Registration Number”, which is located near the top left hand side of the white page.

Also please note that if you have a change of address you cannot re-register online. You will have to fill out and send in the snail mail form.

If you are re-registering as a Tier 2 cottage food producer there is a payment of $50.00 required. You can pay with a credit card, follow the link provided in Step #10. If you are paying with a regular check you will need to re-register through the mail.

If you prefer to mail in your re-registration this is also pretty simple. Just be sure to read the Cottage Food Exemption rules on the back of the white form, fill in the required information on the front and mail it in the already addressed envelope that is provided.

If you have any questions please contact the MDA at (651) 201-6062 or email mda.cottagefood@state.mn.us.

December Update

Hi folks! I hope everyone is doing well this busy month of December. I have a few updates for you.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has informed me that the re-registration forms will be mailed out on December 15th. I know that some of you have concerns about the timing but I wouldn’t worry about it. Just fill out the forms as soon as you receive them.

Suzanne Driessen told me that the University of Minnesota Extension has sent out a survey to learn more about what class participants have done since taking the Tier 2 online course. If you receive the link in your email inbox, please fill it out. Suzanne will summarize the results and share them with us.

The U of M Extension is working on the 2018 class schedule. Here are the confirmed dates and locations. When I get a few minutes I’ll also list them in the events section of our Facebook page. You can register for the classes here: Cottage Food Safety Courses

•           January 4, 1pm – 5pm, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Robert J. Jones Urban  Research and   Outreach-Engagement Center

•           February 6, 9am-1pm, Buffalo, Wright County Government Center

•           February 27, 1pm-5pm, Marshall, SW/WC Service Coop

•           March 1, 9am-1pm, Brainerd, Land Services Building

•           March 13, 1pm-5pm, Jordan, Scott County Extension Center

•           March 27, 1pm-5pm, Alexandria, Douglas County Extension Office

•           April 21, 1pm-5pm, St. Cloud, Extension Regional Office

•           May 2, 1pm-5pm, Bemidji, Beltrami Electric Cooperative

•           June 27, 1pm-5pm, Willmar, MCROC Extension Regional Office

•           July 10, 1pm-5pm, Mankato, Extension Regional Office

•           November 7, 1pm-5pm, Worthington, Extension Regional Office

•           December 8, 9am-1pm, St. Cloud, Extension Regional Office

If you need more information about becoming a registered Minnesota cottage food producer the information is available here: Cottage Food Producer Registration

One more thing, we have now been legally able to operate as cottage food producers for 2 ½ years. We have seen many people begin businesses and many people register as is required. However, there are still a lot of people operating without registering and there are people who have registered but do not follow the basic guidelines.

We know that the MDA does the best it can to enforce and follow up on this issue. It is understandably frustrating when you are doing everything you can to follow the letter of the law while others do not, especially after working so hard for so many years to amend this law in the first place.

I think it’s important for us all to get the word out to others about registering, but the loudest way to inform others is by deed. If you are following the rules, if you are displaying your signs, if you are being the example of the proper way to conduct yourself as a registered cottage food producer, the consumer will take notice.

In summary: We worked VERY hard to get this law passed. Do your best to always follow the law. Food safety is everyone’s responsibility.

Have a fantastic December!