A Few Tidbits

Happy first day of Fall everyone! We woke up to 37 degrees this morning. Mother Nature has begun the autumn season with a vengeance. I just wanted to give you a few little bits of news today.

For those of you who do not get David Crabill’s e-newsletters, I am sharing with you his letter from today. Great news for California who just passed a bill we dream about here in Minnesota. Congratulations to the California Cottage Food Producers!

Big news this week!
Last week, California passed their cottage food bill, and a few weeks ago, Illinois also passed their cottage food bill!
Both bills are significant improvements and will go into effect on January 1st.

I think we now have all 2021 cottage food bills in the books!

It has been the biggest year ever for cottage food improvements, with 17 states improving their law in one way or another!
This year was also the first time that I ever started (or even was directly involved in) a cottage food bill.
I just published this epic post, where I shared some behind-the-scenes intel on how AB 1144 came to be.
Even though I have read and tracked hundreds of cottage food bills over the past decade, I was often totally clueless about the legislative process.
Questions would come up about our bill, and I hadn’t the foggiest idea what the answers were. Fortunately we had an experienced team leading AB 1144 forward!
You’ll want to read this post if:

  • Someone has ever asked you to reach out to your legislator and you thought, “I don’t have time for that” or “My message won’t make a difference”
  • You want to know what really goes on to make a cottage food bill happen
  • You want to learn how my baby daughter (Sierra) sparked the idea for this bill (no joke!)

After reading this post, you’ll have a greater appreciation for the cottage food law that you already have!
Read the post: Behind The Scenes Of A Cottage Food Bill

Check out the new and improved cottage food safety training online course which is now available on the Universtity of Minnesota Extension website. Find out what you need to know to comply with new law changes. https://z.umn.edu/7526

SAVE THE DATE!

DateTimeEvent
Oct. 12, 20216:30pm – 7:30pmMNCFPA Members Happy Hour
Oct. 20, 20217:00pm – 8:30pmMNCFPA Virtual Class:  How To Bake the Perfect Pie!
Nov. 9, 20216:30pm – 7:30pmMNCFPA Members Happy Hour
Dec. 14. 20216:30pm – 7:30pmMNCFPA Members Happy Hour
Dec. 8-9, 2021TBAMFMA 2021 Annual Conference
Jan. 6-7, 2022TBAMNCFPA 2022 Annual Cottage Food Producers Conference

Become a member of the Minnesota Registered Cottage Food Producers Association. We believe that our organization unites and gives CFPs a unified voice when addressing topics that impact our industry, lobbying our lawmakers to strengthen the cottage food industry, and the opportunity to secure group purchasing power.

For more information go to our website, mncfpa.org.

September 2021 Updates

Hello everyone! It’s been over a month since the newly amended cottage food laws went into effect. I apologize for not writing sooner, but what should have been a celebration for finally getting our caps raised and the LLC issue settled has instead turned into a case of disappointment.

For many years the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) claimed that the use of the word “individual” in the law was the reason why we could not run our businesses as LLCs. So, for five years we kept working on this bill to have it changed to the word “person” to appease the MDA. This past session we had almost unanimous legislative support. MDA even told the legislatures, “No problem! Of course, they can set up their businesses any way they want to, just leave the word “individual” there. It’s all good!” And I said hold up! For five years we’ve been fighting with these people over this one word and now all of a sudden, it’s okay? Something is up. I don’t buy it.

But everyone we spoke to couldn’t figure out what they were up to and so the bill passed. Oh, happy day! Finally, we have a cap that we can live with and we can set up our business as an LLC if we want to. Now I can finally be at peace long enough to do what I actually set out to do 11 years ago and just bake. Nope, that’s not going to happen.

That’s not going to happen because we were right, there was a catch. I assumed that in the statute where it says an individual must put their name on their label, that it of course meant my business name. That’s what all businesses do right? That’s not going to happen because after contacting 5 lawyers and spending this whole past month trying to figure out where this leaves us, we have found out there’s nothing we can do about it because it’s law. So now we have to go back and get the law changed to that one little word “person” because otherwise our labels leave a gray area. And right now, I feel deflated because I knew all along something was up but I just couldn’t see it.

So, that being said, we can still rejoice that our cap is higher. We can look forward to making pet treats. We can set up our businesses as LLCs if we want to. As per law we will have to put our names on our labels but legally there is no reason why we can’t add our business names to the label as well. After speaking to several lawyers, they gave us some suggestions, and we have posted a few examples of how you might want your label to look. You can see them on our website, mncfpa.org

It should also be noted that the MDA has made some additional changes to the Cottage Food Law Guidance and everyone registering at the Tier 1 level will now be required to take a yearly food safety test, instead of taking it every three years as we have done in the past.

Non-Potentially Hazardous Food Update

On a more positive note, the Non-potentially Hazardous Foods Lists on our website have been updated. We have added one specifically for Pet Treats. We are so excited to be able to make and sell pet (dog & cat) treats now. Both are available on our mncfpa.org website. Be sure to check out the rules at the MDA regarding this and follow safe food practices for pet treats. Remember things like chocolate, garlic and yeast are poisonous to dogs. Here’s a helpful article from bechewy.com, 23 Foods Your Pet Should Never Eat

Human Foods NPH Guide

Pet Treats (Dog/Cat) NPH Guide

SAVE THE DATE!

We will be holding our 2022 Annual Cottage Food Producers Conference on January 6th & 7th. This will be a virtual event, stay tuned for more details.

Helpful Tips

I thought I would add a new paragraph to the blog with helpful tips. We quite often have discussions on our Facebook group page, MN Registered Cottage Food Producers Group. One of the most recent discussions was about what to do when you have taken an order and an unforeseen emergency comes up causing you to have to back out of the order. This can be very stressful to everyone involved, especially if the occasion you are baking for is a wedding or other large event. We have put together a few suggestions that we hope will help.

  • Team up now with other cottage food producers in your area that you know you can rely on in case you have to cancel any future orders.
  • When booking an event make sure that you have a list of fellow cottage food producers on hand to give to the customer in case of an emergency cancellation.
  • Be sure that your backup CFPS are aware that they may be called on in advance if at all possible.
  • Good customer service is the key to repeat customers so be as helpful as possible.

Last But Definitely Not Least

It’s hard to believe that the Minnesota State Fair has already come and gone. These days just race by too quickly! We had been so kindly invited by MN Grown to be a part of their booth at the State Fair this year. Unfortunately, due to many different variables, we were not able to join them. Hopefully next year! However, Minnesota cottage foods was well represented this year. MN Grown and the MDA highlighted cottage foods at their booths. Matt Rosen of The Bakerz Dozen even got to do a cooking demonstration at the Cambria Kitchen in the Creative Arts building. We had several of our wonderful Minnesota cottage food producers enter their specialties in many food category competitions. A huge congratulations to every single one of them! Here is a list of 2021 State Fair Winners from the Star Tribune. Check out a few pictures of the yummy treats entered by our fabulous CFPs.

Become a member of the Minnesota Registered Cottage Food Producers Association. We believe that our organization unites and gives CFPs a unified voice when addressing topics that impact our industry, lobbying our lawmakers to strengthen the cottage food industry, and the opportunity to secure group purchasing power.

For more information go to our website, mncfpa.org.

One last thought and a few throwback images to remind us of how far we have come.

Happy Baking Everyone!

MNCFPA Anniversary Celebration

Hi everyone! We had such a nice time on Saturday. Thank you again to everyone who came out to Brainerd for our 6th year Anniversary event. For everyone who couldn’t be with us, you were missed. A lot of people wondered why we specifically chose Brainerd. We chose Brainerd because it is the exact center of Minnesota, and where better to hold an event that celebrates Minnesota Cottage Food Producers than the heart of Minnesota.

We had a pretty good turnout, great food and a few of the guests we had specifically invited were able to attend. We had a silent auction, a table full of items with our MNCFPA logo on them for sale, a cake walk and pie eating contest and fun games, paintable sugar cookies, bubbles & tattoos for the kids.

Among the many legislatures we invited, Sen. Mathews was the only one who was able to attend. But since he was the chief author of our bills this past legislative session, we were more than delighted that he joined us along with his wife and son. Meagan Forbes from the Institute for Justice also attended. Retired Rep. Jim Newberger, the man who is most responsible for helping us to become cottage food producers in Minnesota, attended with his lovely wife Michele. He spoke a few words and encouraged us to diligently watch over our hard-won accomplishments and keep pressing forward.

We took a lot of pictures to share with you all. I will also a share a few words from my speech below. I think it’s pretty close to what I actually said. My brain turns to mush when I speak in public. 🙂

“Thank you for coming to help celebrate the 6th anniversary of amending the cottage food law in Minnesota and the passing of the two new bills this year 2021, which further amended and improved our cottage food law.

Eleven years ago, I discovered that it was illegal to sell homemade foods in Minnesota.  So, I set out to change the law. I met Christy Stefanick who had already begun the process of contacting legislature and had started a petition. But she was busy with small children and I eventually took over from her. Along the way Marianne Susseman, Joleen Christenson and Amanda Reinsbach joined us and we became the five musketeers. Unfortunately, they could not be with us today but Christy did send a message to everyone:

Message from Christy Stefanik: Tell the rest of the gang how happy I am about what you all are doing with this cottage food law! You are all amazing.

We have so many people to thank and it would take forever to name them all, but we are lucky enough to have a few here with us today.

Rep. Newberger was just beginning his first campaign for election when I met him. I explained what the cottage food law was and why it needed to be amended and he said if he won, he would help me. And that’s exactly what he did.

In 2015 after so many years of trying and failing to get the bills passed, I had just about given up. But Jim never did. After meeting Kathy Zeman of the MFMA we teamed up with Sen. Dibble as author of the senate version and together with great bipartisan effort the bill finally passed. I firmly believe that we would not he standing here today if it wasn’t for Jim Newberger.

Although we were finally able to legally sale after 2015, the limitations were strict. Among other things we were only allowed to make up to $18,000 gross revenue, and MDA wasn’t allowing us to become LLCs. So, we went back to the drawing board. Again, there were a lot of ups and downs and years went by.

In Jan. 2020 we organized the only official association. That’s when we met Maegan Forbes from the Institute for Justice. She offered to help us with the legislation and form a coalition. We were pretty close to success that year but then covid hit and everything went on hold. Taking up the mantel again this legislative session was interesting. We had so many zoom meetings! But she was always there. Meagan’s help has been invaluable. She not only helped us get our bills passed but she’s been working with several other states as well. We can’t thank her enough.

Sen. Andrew Mathews has been our steadfast and always patient champion through these past few years. Authoring and fighting for our bills all the way. His calm resolve made me 100% sure that we would succeed. Finally, this year with the bipartisan efforts of Sen. Mathews and Rep. Vang we got our two bills passed. We can’t thank you enough Sen. Mathews for all of your hard work.

I have met so many amazing people on this journey. Together we have accomplished so much. I want to give a special shout out to our board members past and present, Virginia Loudan, Karen Peterson, Christine Myhre, and the Yin to my Yang, Jennifer Carriveau. Mark Christianson was unable to join us today. But we had several wonderful volunteers. Tom Nechodomu, Cora Knutson, Brenda Thompson, my children, our long-suffering husbands, thank you all. Now Jennifer is going to tell you a little bit about the bills that have passed this year. Thank you all for coming today…..”

I should have added in my thank you’s that Waylon Thompson helped me create our very first logo when we were just setting out to amend the law. After we became an association Virginia Loudan created our beautiful new MNCFPA logo. She literally captured the essence of cottage foods in one picture. A huge thank you to both of them!

There’s one more thing on my mind this evening, the cottage food industry is all about community. It’s about serving our neighbors, giving a helping hand and being there for each other when someone has a need. Covid showcased the importance of local foods like it hasn’t since the great depression. Shopping at our community events, farmers market, supporting our farmers and cottage food producers, and buying local is more important than ever. You can help by spreading the word, look for the sign that says, “These products are homemade and not subject to state inspection.” This sign signifies that these wonderful cottage food producers have taken the time to complete food safety training, and have packaged and labeled their products properly. Minnesota registered cottage food producers go the extra mile because they care.

Our annual conference is in January. I hope to see you all there!

Below are a few items we had for sale. We still have a few things left. If you are interested in purchasing anything, you can email us at mncfpa@gmail.com.

July 2021 Update

There’s a lot happening this summer which is a great thing, but it’s definitely keeping us hopping.

We are so excited to be celebrating our 6th year anniversary since the cottage food law was amended in 2015 and also the passing of two new bills this 2021 legislative session. The event will take place at the Gregory Park Pavilion in Brainerd. If you would like to join us you can find more information on our website, mncfpa.org.

We have also been invited to join Minnesota Grown at their booth at the Minnesota State Fair. Stay tuned for more information about when and where we will be located.

We have attended some meetings these past few weeks and there is some updated information to share with you all.

The U of M Extension has some updates on their FAQs blog and also the NPH-foods list. Please remember it will be updated again to reflect the passage of the pet treat bill.

One of the things to be aware of is that white peaches cannot be canned and sold under cottage foods, they are considered potentially hazardous. However, yellow peaches are still allowed to be canned.

It should be noted that Covid restrictions have been lifted at farmers markets unless the market manager says otherwise. Some managers are still asking their vendors to wear masks.

Please check out the Safe Food Sampling Info on the U of M Extension website. Even though covid restrictions have lifted, all food samples should be in a covered container and everyone offering samples should have a handwashing station.

There will be a recording of this meeting from July 12th, 2021 on the MFMA website if you would like to hear U of M’s Kathy Brandt talk more about food safety rules and requirements.

Another very important item to note is that anyone getting sick with a norovirus must be well for 72hours after anyone in the home has been ill before using your kitchen for cottage foods.

The MFMA will be celebrating the National Farmers Market Week from August 1st to the 7th. Be sure to check out their website for all of the fun events taking place. Right now, until August 7th there is a photo contest going on. Anyone can participate in the contest. Just be sure to send in your photos of the famers’ markets that you attend. There will be up to $500.00 in giveaways.

Don’t Forget! There’s only 3 more days left to register for the Celebrating Cottage Foods Social Gathering. Help MNCFPA celebrate the sixth year anniversary of the Minnesota cottage food industry. July 17th from 11:30 am – 3:30 pm at Gregory Park Pavilion in Brainerd, MN. There will be food served all day, games for adults & children, a silent auction, door prizes, and a pie eating contest right in the Heart of Minnesota! This event is for everyone. So bring the family or load up a car with other cottage food friends and make a day of it (some are making a weekend of it).And remember to bring a chair and business cards. Pre-registration is required.

Happy 6th Anniversary!

Happy 6th Anniversary to all of us, the Minnesota Cottage Food Producers! On July 1st, 2015, after many years of lobbying, Minnesota amended the cottage food law to make it legal to sell non-potentially hazardous foods from home, as well as farmers’ markets, and community events.

I can not believe how much has happened since then. We now have over 5,000 registered cottage food producers in Minnesota. We have the only active cottage food association in the United States, MNCFPA. Nationally every state has some form of a cottage food law now except New Jersey. David Crabill of Forrager.com hosts the first podcast about cottage foods. Lisa & John Kivirist of Wisconsin hosted the very first national cottage food conference which had over 9000 people attend. The cottage food industry proved a vital resource during the hardest months of the pandemic. We have indeed come a long way.

This 2021 legislative session we were so happy to see the passing of two more bills amending the cottage food law that will allow us to make and sell pet treats, make a livable wage and set up our businesses according to state law. We can’t thank everyone enough who helped get us to this point. These amendments will go into effect August 1st, 2021.

In honor of our six year anniversary and the passing of these new bills we will be holding a celebration on July 17th, 2021. It will be held at Gregory Park Pavilion in Brainerd, MN. There will be food, games, and giveaways!

If you would like to join us please click this link for tickets: Celebrate Together

June 2021 Updates

Hello everyone! I hope you have been able to keep yourselves cool. This heat is crazy!

I have a few quick updates for you all. First but most definitely not least, in case you haven’t heard yet, our bills, which yayyy passed this legislative session, will go into effect August 1st. You can read more details about it here: Time To Celebrate!

Yesterday I attended the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association’s monthly open forum. The updated requirements for covid-19 safety was discussed. Most markets are asking their vendors to continue to wear a mask. Food samples are allowed in 3oz sizes or less. Please remember that if you are handing out samples a hand washing station is required. These meetings are recorded and shared so watch the MFMA website for updates. For more food sampling information you can click here: University Of Minnesota Extension

The MFMA monthly meetings are interesting and informative, especially if you are a vendor or want to be a vendor at the farmers’ markets. Next meeting: Monday, July 5th, 2021:   https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84702484081

National Farmers’ Market Week is August 1-7, 2021. MFMA is planning some fun events in honor of this. Check out their website or subscribe to their weekly e-mail updates: MN Farmers’ Market Association

The Cottage Food Non-Potentially Hazardous Food list has been updated as of June 7th, 2021. You can check it out here: Non-Potentially Hazardous Foods List

Stay tuned for more updated information as we will add a Pet Treat category soon.

On a serious note the MN Department of Health has reported a significant increase in foodborne illnesses. Please be sure to take all precautions to keep your consumers & businesses safe. For more information go to: MDH Food Safety Partnership Update

Important Dates To Remember Date Time
MNCFPA Members’ Happy Hour*July 7, 20216:30pm
Celebrating Cottage Foods in Minnesota July 17, 2021 11:30am to 3:30pm
Omnibus bill (SF 958) goes into effect August 1, 2021 12:00am
National Farmers’ Market Week August 1-7, 2021 Details Coming
MNCFPA Members’ Happy Hour August 10, 20216:30pm
MNCFPA Members’ Happy Hour September 14, 20216:30pm
MNCFPA Webinar – How To Make the Perfect Pie!October 6th, 20217:00pm
MNCFPA Members’ Happy Hour December 14, 2021 6:30pm
MN Cottage Food Producers’ Fourth Annual ConferenceJanuary 2022Details Coming

*If you would like to become a member of the Minnesota Registered Cottage Food Producers Association please click here to sign up: MNCFPA Membership

Cottage Food Law Updates

Good Morning! There have been a lot of great things happening in the cottage food industry this year. It’s so exciting! Our Minnesota bills will go into effect on August 1st, 2021.

Here are a few things you might want to keep in mind ahead of August 1st before you print a whole bunch of labels. I personally print my labels as I need them, but for those of you who don’t, you might want to use up your old labels before August 1st.

  1. All labels will have to have the words “These products are homemade, and not subject to inspection” on them. You will still need to have the sign that says that on your table at farmers markets, community events etc.
  2. You will no longer be required to put your home address on your labels unless you want to. You can use your registration number instead.
  3. Pet Treats must be made with only non-potentially hazardous items. So if you are testing out recipes keep this in mind. Also remember all of your pet treats will require labels.

You can read more about the upcoming changes here: mncfpa.org

I want to share with you the newsletter I received today from David Crabill of Forrager with a lot of information about what’s been happening in the cottage food world this year. Be sure to sign up to receive David’s newsletters and to hear his Forrager podcasts. He hosts the only cottage food podcast in the United States.

From David:

Wow, 2021 has got to be the biggest year ever for cottage food law improvements! It seems like something is passing almost every week!

And as you’ll see, most of these are not small changes. Many states are upgrading their laws to align with some of the best states out there.

First, a quick recap/update of the bills I mentioned in my last email update:

  • Arkansas, New Mexico, Lincoln, NE, and Boston, MA already improved their laws
  • Montana’s governor signed their bill, so their food freedom law has officially passed. It is already in effect, meaning that Montanans can start selling their homemade food right now!
  • Florida’s bill is still awaiting the governor’s signature. The Florida League of Cities is strongly opposed to this bill and is pressuring the governor to veto it! If you live in Florida and have a few minutes to help, please reach out to Justin Pearson at jpearson@ij.org

Okay, on to the new updates:

Oklahoma

This will likely be the biggest improvement of the year for any state. Oklahoma has consistently ranked as having one of the worst cottage food laws in the country.

Now they are going to the opposite end of the spectrum, since they just passed one of the best laws in the country! Their new law goes into effect on November 1st, 2021.

They are calling HB 1032 a food freedom bill, but I’m not sure I would call it that. Rather, I would say that it’s a great cottage food law that also allows some types of perishable food sales.

But let’s not squabble over nomenclature, and let’s appreciate the new law for what it is! Here are some of the most notable improvements:

  • Instead of only allowing certain types of baked goods, now it will allow almost any kind of non-perishable food, plus some types of perishable ones
  • It will increase the sales limit from $20,000 to $75,000
  • Instead of allowing only sales from home and at farmers markets, now it will allow all direct sales
  • It will also allow shipping and indirect sales of non-perishable foods

Finally, Oklahomans will have a great cottage food law!

Minnesota

MN’s initial bill was ultimately added to a larger omnibus bill (SF 958) that has now fully passed and will go into effect on August 1st, 2021. This bill almost didn’t pass because some other (non-cottage food) parts of the bill were controversial. Omnibus bills come with pros and cons… fortunately the pros outweighed the cons this time!

Minnesota currently has the lowest sales cap of any state, but that is changing this year! The new law will raise the sales cap from $18,000 to $78,000.

MN also has a simpler exemption for those who sell less than $5,000 of products per year. This bill maintains the $5k exemption, but will continuously increase it to keep up with inflation.

This bill also changes a couple labeling requirements, and allows people to sell certain types of homemade pet treats. Overall, it’s a great improvement to MN’s current law.

Alabama

Alabama just passed a huge improvement (SB 160)  to their cottage food law. This bill will go into effect on August 1st, 2021.

First, it will allow most non-perishable foods, instead of only baked goods, jams/jellies, dried herbs, and candies.

It will also remove the $20,000 sales limit. Alabama will join the 30 other states that have no sales limit.

Finally, it will allow online sales and in-state shipping of products. Alabama will no longer be categorized on Forrager as one of the more restrictive states!

Illinois

SB 2007, AKA the “Home-To-Market Act”, just passed both Houses and is now waiting for the governor’s signature. If signed, it would go into effect on January 1st, 2022.

This would be a massive improvement to Illinois’ existing law, in that it would allow most types of direct sales in the state (their current law only allows sales from farmers markets).

This bill does add some restrictions and government oversight, like a paid registration process, but overall, I think the benefits are easily worth the tradeoffs.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin seems to need lawsuits to enable the sale cottage foods, but they’re working! They just won another lawsuit.

Basically, the 2017 lawsuit (against the state ag dept) allowed people in the state to sell non-perishable baked goods. The ag dept didn’t agree with that ruling, and created an arbitrary rule that only baked goods that contain flour would be allowed. Quite frankly, it was ridiculous!

Last month, a judge once again sided with cottage food advocates, and ruled that the ag dept had no right to limit baked goods sales to just those that contain flour.

The plaintiffs are continuing to work on another lawsuit that would allow more than just baked goods to be sold.

Utah

This is a bill I initially missed, but it’s a big one! It passed back in March, and went into effect last month.

HB 94 allows Utah residents to sell homemade meals, similar to California’s AB 626 from 2019. Similar to CA, Utah is calling these businesses “microenterprise home kitchens”.

Most notably, Utah’s MEHKO law doesn’t suffer from California’s horrible opt-in limitation. For that reason, Utah’s law is much better than CA’s.

Granted, there are still plenty of requirements and restrictions for these mini restaurants, but when combined with Utah’s existing food freedom law, I’d say that Utah has now overtaken Wyoming as the most favorable state for selling homemade food.

Utah is now the first state in the nation that allows someone to sell virtually any type of homemade food, one way or another!

Phew! I told you there were a lot! And there are a lot of bills that are still in the works too.

I think you’ll agree that it’s exciting to see such major changes across the country. Our little cottage food industry is growing fast!*

Until next week,
David

* P.S. Our industry’s growth makes me think of my son Ray, who just turned 2 last week. He is changing all the time, and he’s not so little anymore! 🙂

Time to Celebrate!

Hi Everyone! Every time I am about to publish this blog something changes and I have to update it, but that’s okay because it has all been good news. We did it everyone! Our bills have been passed and signed by the Governor! I for one am still pinching myself to make sure it’s not a dream.

We found out just this morning that Governor Walz has signed SF958 and it has been deposited in the Office of the MN Secretary of State. This means that the changes we all have worked so hard for will become law soon and open up more opportunities for all of us. Please watch MNCFPA’s website for the exact date the law will change. Here is the link: www.mncfpa.org Look under the legislation tab.

The official end of the legislative session happened on May 17th with both of our bills passing the House and Senate Floor votes in the Omnibus Bill 985. We still had to wait for the Governor to sign this bill to make it official. From what I understand he has 14 days to sign it or it is automatically vetoed. As of today we had 6 more days for this to happen. That’s why it has taken me so long to update this blog. I’ve been busy holding my breath, waiting and watching to see what happens next, fingers crossed just hoping that we made it all the way through. And today we did!

I am very thankful to everyone who supported us and helped to bring us to this moment. Meagan Forbes from Institute for Justice for her never ending advice and assistance can’t be thanked enough. Especially thanks to Senator Mathews and Representative Vang who authored our bills and stood up for us so gallantly. Thank you to Kathy Zeman of the MN Farmers Market Association and our own MNCFPA coalition team.

Most importantly, thank you to every person who sent an email or called or met with their district reps, this is what made the difference.

I want to share with you a very important example of this, which I heard while listening to one of the floor sessions of a different bill. The argument was made that the reason this Senator didn’t support the bill in question was that neither he nor any of of his colleagues had received anything for or against this bill from their constituents, therefore obviously the Minnesota public wasn’t concerned with it.

This right here is why it is sooooo very important for each and everyone us to get involved when we want something done. Not just us, but everyone we know, our friends, our family, everyone. We have to make our voices known. Your voices were heard.

Below you can find the items that are included in our bills.

Cottage Foods & Pet Treats Bills

Pet treats will no longer need a commercial license to be sold legally; they will now be considered a cottage food. 

NEW: Home-processed pet treats for dogs and cats

  • The individual is registered as a cottage food producer with MDA
  • Pet treats are not potentially hazardous food, they are safe for human consumption, and for consumption by the intended species;
  • Pet treats are baked or dehydrated;
  • The individual displays at the point of sale a clearly legible sign or placard stating, “These products are homemade and not subject to state inspection.”
  • Each individual pet treat package is labeled with the following: (i) name and registration number or address of the individual preparing the pet treat; (ii) date on which the pet treat was prepared; (iii) ingredients; and (iv) the statement “These products are homemade and not subject to state inspection.”
  • These pet treats can be sold directly to consumers as defined in the Cottage Food Law M.S. 28A.152

REVISED: MN Cottage Food Law 28A.152

Following are the revisions to our current law:

  • Cottage food producers (CFP) will be able to organize their business in whatever business entity they wish (e.g., LLC)
  • Gross annual sales cap raised from $18,000 to $78,000
  • Label changes:
    • CFP may list their registration number on their label or their address
  • Every label will now include the statement “These products are homemade and not subject to state inspection.”
  • Tier I remains at $5,000 but tied to an inflation index, and remains with a free registration and free training
  • MDA will register a CFP within 30 days of submitting a complete registration to the commissioner. A registration shall be deemed accepted after 30 days following an individual’s complete registration to the commissioner. 

MN Cottage Food Producers Association and the MFMA will offer free webinars on these changes later this summer, as soon as we have updated details.

Save the Date! Let’s celebrate! We are planning a celebration for our 6 Year Anniversary and for the passing of the updated bills. Last July it was five years since the cottage food bill was first amended to allow us to be cottage food producers in Minnesota. We had hoped to celebrate then, but sadly that didn’t happen. This year we are planning an open house celebration right in the heart of Minnesota. It will be held on July 17th at the Gregory Park Pavilion in Brainerd, from 11:30am to 3:30pm. We are working out more details and will share them soon. For now please save the date! If you would like to volunteer to help in any way please email us at mncfpa@gmail.com.

National Cottage Food Conference, My Review – Day 4

Wow! I can not believe we are already on Day 4, the very last day of the Home-based Food Entrepreneur Virtual National Conference. So much thanks goes to Lisa Kivirist and John Ivanko for all of their work in making this happen. There was so much information shared, so many new acquaintances made, so many ideas to implement in the future, and so much more!

The keynote was Food Freedom Frontier, by Alexia Kulwiec, Executive Director of the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund.

This presentation was very interesting and in-depth. I have no idea how anyone can keep up with all of the rules and regulations, especially small farms. Alexia discussed all of the rules and regulation for selling your locally produced foods. The good news is there are many new laws coming up to lesson some of these regulations and make it easier to get fresh foods to the consumers. I’ve included a summary of her talk here. It is very worth watching this recording.

“Consumers are demanding locally grown and produced food more than ever, and the country has seen an increase in cottage food entrepreneurs as a solution to less employment opportunities brought about by COVID-19. This keynote presentation will explore the opportunities for small farmers and food producers in light of COVID-19. The presentation will address how often federal and local laws make it challenging for small producers to market directly to consumers. Alexia will discuss some existing state and local regulations that have eased the regulatory burden and support cottage food production, such as the Wyoming Food Freedom Act, as well as number of pending State proposals to do the same. COVID-19 has brought attention the vulnerability of the U.S. food system, and small producers can be a big part of the solution.”

Following the pattern of the last three days a live Q & A session, which was recorded, came after every workshop. Lisa hosted these sessions.

At 2pm we heard Lauren Cortesi talk about How to be a Successful Home-based Baker. Lauren is the owner of Bella’s Desserts in Glenmoore, Philadelphia.

It may seem that many subjects were repeated. I admit that some of it was repetitious, but there are so many facets of this business that nothing was boring and there was a lot of new content in every workshop. Lauren really focused on the importance of inexpensive advertising and pricing. Never compromise on your price, you are worth it.

The 3pm workshop was by the very awesome Lisa Kivirist, speaking about Recipes & Resources: Increase Sales through Local Ingredients & Creative Packaging

Lisa spoke about how to incorporate local fresh ingredients in to your recipes. She also gave some of her tips for making unique displays and packaging. The cuter the packaging, the more you can charge. 🙂

4pm, it’s the very last workshop of the conference, Managing Risk and Liabilities with Insurance. This was covered by Rachel Armstrong is a Minnesota native, Founder and Executive Director of Farm Commons.

Liability is a very important subject that I personally don’t think a lot of people take seriously enough. In a sue happy world you always need to be prepared for the unexpected. Rachel discussed how important it is to understand exactly what liability is and how the law defines it. She also went over how to protect yourself from liability through insurance and how to find the correct insurance to cover your needs. This was the last workshop of the conference and in my opinion it was the most important one. Having proper insurance is the most important thing you can do for your business. Be sure to look Rachel up and learn about liability.

At 5pm, Lisa, John and their son did a quick recap of the events. In the end 901 cottage foodies attended this conference. They thanked everyone who attended and with one final way and a smile they said goodbye. I am sure they are looking forward to a well deserved rest this weekend.

Jen and I hosted one last virtual meetup on behalf of the Minnesota attendees at 6pm. We had so much fun getting to know new fellow cottage food producers. Even a producer from Santa Crus, California joined us and told us a little bit about how cottage food law works there. It was hard to say good bye that we decided to continue to meet up in the future. Stay tuned for more information on that.

What an amazing week! Perhaps the next one will be in person. I hope so, I’m looking forward to sharing a glass of wine with you all. Maybe next year. 🙂

One more quick note! You can still register to see the recordings of all the events. Just contact Lisa Kivirist, co-author of Homemade for Sale for more information.

Introducing Cruz

Amy Chladek, owner of Chladek Cookies, is a cottage food producer in Blooming Prairie, MN. Recently her baking partner, six-year-old Cruz, was super excited to become a registered cottage food producer all on his own! He may just be our youngest CFP in Minnesota. We are so happy for him, and we know his mama is very proud. We were honored that Amy and Cruz agreed to tell us their story so that we could share it with you.

Here is the story of Amy and Cruz, told by Amy:

“I have loved baking all of my life, I started with decorating cakes for friends and family.  Once we had Cruz, decorating cakes kind of went on the back burner.  I stumbled on a great cookie recipe and really started diving into cookies more.  When Cruz was three, he started helping me with any sort of baking. It didn’t matter what it was, he wanted in on it.  

My close friend suffered an unexpected death in the family and was having a silent auction to help with finances.  I wanted to do something for the family, so Cruz and I donated 3 dozen cookies every month for a year as a silent auction item.  We had so much fun doing it, we ended up donating it again to a cancer live auction the next year.  Long story short, people started asking what I charge for cookies.  I had gone back and forth about becoming a registered cottage food producer for about 1 1/2 years, and finally did it a couple months ago, as Chladek Cookies, specializing in drop cookies.  Cruz struggled with the idea of mom baking without him being involved, I do most baking at night when my kids are sleeping.  Cruz begged and begged if he could help, so I explained to him that he had to do some training.  So, one night we sat down and went through the training and sent in his application.  

Cruz is 6 and is in kindergarten.  He has a younger brother Creed who is three.  Cruz does a great job helping his brother with measuring out ingredients, and baking.  Cruz is in wrestling, loves to fish, drive/race his RC car, swim, dance, play Minecraft and be outside.  He is a very creative kid, he likes school and his favorite thing to do after school is to play outside, play the Wii or play Minecraft.”

I asked Amy if Cruz would mind answering a few questions for us and he very kindly did.

*I have been baking since I was six years old. How old were you when you first started baking?

          Cruz: I was 3 years old when I started helping with baking.

* What are your favorite things to bake?

          Cruz: My favorite thing to bake is cakes, chocolate cakes.

* What is your favorite part of baking?

          Cruz: My favorite part of baking is getting messy.

* What was your largest baking project?

         Cruz: My biggest project was helping my mom make my 5th birthday cake, it was a king cobra snake.

* Do you have a favorite cooking utensil? For instance, I love my Danish spatula!

         Cruz: My favorite utensil is my own hand mixer.

* Have you created any of your own recipes?

        Cruz: I created banana muffins on my own, and a green cake.

* Do you have any baking tips for other kids wanting to become registered cottage food producers?

          Cruz: Tips for kids is to ask your parents if you can be a cottage food producer.

* Is there anything you would like people to know about being a cottage food producer and baking for others in general?

          Cruz: I want people to know that you have to wash your hands and it (the product) has to be homemade.

Thank you so much Cruz and Amy!

We wish you the very best of luck and can’t wait to taste some of that green cake!