2021 Conference Highlights

The 3rd Annual Minnesota Cottage Food Producers Conference got off to a great start the evening of January 7th with our annual association members meeting. We had a great turnout and a very nice time chatting with and getting to know each other. There are so many amazing and talented cottage food producers in Minnesota. It’s an honor to meet and work with them all.

Thursday evening we were joined by Meagan Forbes from the Institute for Justice. Meagan has been so wonderful to help us navigate through the sometimes confusing legislative system. She explained how the process of passing bills works and how each person can contribute by contacting their own district representatives. We can’t thank her enough for all she does.

On January 8th we began our conference with the delightful Kelly McManus as our keynote speaker. Kelly is owner and founder of the Food Makers Academy. She taught us how to find our own unique brand for better marketing. On February 15th, Kelly will be holding the first online multi-week course to teach you how to create a booth that stands-out and helps get your product noticed at local markets and events. To sign up for this go to: Food Makers Academy

Next we had a fun chat with Emily Lauer of Fruit and Grain. We discussed the pros and cons of social media advertising, what has worked best for her in the past and what she’s doing now. Her tips were very helpful and thanks to Zoom we even got a glimpse of her coffeehouse in action, covid-era style. 🙂

After a brief lunch break we had the pleasure of meeting Michele Vig of Neat Little Nest. She taught us how important being organized is for peace of mind and how to accomplish this. She has a book that can be purchased on Amazon titled: The Holistic Guide to Decluttering: Organize and Transform Your Space, Time, and Mind. She is so inspiring and we hope very much to meet with her again in the future.

Friday afternoon we welcomed Seth Werner. He is a Lecturer in the Marketing Department at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. For the past fifteen years he has primarily been teaching Marketing Management, Marketing Research and Pricing Strategy in the MBA program. His presentation was filled with information and was so instructive. If you want to learn the best way to price your product for profit you definitely must look up Seth and join one of his talks.

Alida Sorenson is one of our favorite people at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. She currently serves as the Response and Outreach Supervisor for the Food and Feed Safety Division at the MDA. As part of this role, she is MDA’s liaison to the Minnesota Cottage Food Producers Association. Alida spent some time with us on Friday giving updates and answering lots of questions from our attending cottage food producers.

Last but most definitely not least we were delighted to have Lindsay Kuehn join us. Lindsay describes herself as a “former pig farmer turned lawyer”, and she joined FLAG in the summer of 2017. FLAG is the Farmers’ Legal Action Group, a nonprofit law center. She very graciously helps us understand a lot of the legalities surrounding being a cottage food producer and one of the most confusing items to understand are the ins and outs of copyright laws. We had a lot of questions for her and really appreciated her patience answering them all.

Bright and early Saturday morning we greeted Kathy Zeman. Kathy is the Executive Director of the Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association. She is also the owner of Simple Harvest Farm Organics in Nerstrand, Minnesota. Kathy was a huge help in getting our cottage food bill passed in 2015, finally making it legal to sell homemade foods from our homes, farmers’ markets and other public events. We have worked together ever since. This morning we discussed sales taxes. What items must be taxed and what rules and legislature is in process for sales taxes. It was great to have her join us for a little bit as the 2nd Saturday of every month she opens her Farm Shoppe to the public. Be sure to check it out sometime.

No cottage food conference can be complete without these two amazing ladies who tirelessly guide us and teach us about food safety. Suzanne Driessen and Kathy Brandt are Food Educators from the University of Minnesota Extension. They have worked with us since the law passed in 2015 teaching food safety courses and answering many food safety questions every day.

At this conference they taught us the importance of testing recipes for pH acid and water levels. Kathy showed us a video on the proper use of a pH meter. They spent quite awhile answering the many questions we had for them. We always love talking with these ladies and appreciate all they do.

We finished our conference with one final Q&A session with everyone who was still online. The Zoom conference seemed rather daunting when we first began planning it, but in the end I think it went well. There was a feeling of comradery and much more interaction than we normally experience at an in-person conference. It was wonderful to see every face, and we thank everyone who attended and helped to make this event so successful.

We did record the meetings, but they’re still being edited. We’re definitely lacking in the video making skills. But as soon as we can get that completed, they will be posted on our website for access by MNCFPA members who will receive a passcode.

We also want to take a moment to thank our sponsors: KE Commercial Contractors, BESE Erickson, LLC and the Mankato Alliance Insurance Agency, who have so kindly contributed to the Minnesota Cottage Food Producers Association.

Our 4th Annual Cottage Food Producers Conference will be held in January 2022. Stay tuned for details!

About Licenses & Registrations

Finding the correct license or registration in Minnesota can be really confusing. There are so many of them and depending on where and what you want to sell, they are very different. And they all have very different rules and regulations.

For instance, if you want to sell homemade food from your home or at a public event, such as farmers’ markets, you will want a Cottage Food Producers Registration, or what they call a “Licensing Exemption”. But you can only sell non-potentially hazardous foods. That means no pumpkin pies, cheesecakes and banana breads unless it meets a certain pH and water level. But you could sell those things with a different kind of license.

Recently the Minnesota Department of Agriculture updated their Licensing Wizard. It’s a really neat place to figure out what kind of license or registration you will need for whatever you are dreaming of doing. You just click on the “Begin Wizard” button and answer the questions that pertain to you. It’s really easy and it provides you with many additional links so that you can easily figure out what’s the best license or registration for you.

Click this link for more information: Food Business Licensing and Food Safety Wizard

MNCFPA Conference Begins Today!

Good morning! We are excited to host the annual cottage food producers conference this year. We will begin this evening at 7pm. with a legislative discussion, followed bright and early tomorrow morning with a whole day of interesting topics and a few more Saturday morning. Detailed schedule below. Please Note: Because of the organization and time needed for setting up a virtual conference, registration will close at 11:00am this morning.

Jan. 7th
5:30pmMN Cottage Food Producers Association Members Meeting
7:00-8:00pmDiscussing Legislature with Meagan Forbes
Jan. 8th Morning 
8:15-8:30amWelcome & Announcements
8:30-10:30amKeynote Speaker ~ Kelly McManus of the Food Makers Academy
11:00-12:00Emily Lauer owner of Fruit and Grain – all about Social Media How To’s
12:30-2:00pmMichele Vig owner of Neat Little Nest – Organization How To’s/ Q & A
2:15-3:45pmSeth Werner of UME – Pricing for Profit
4:00-4:30pmAlida Sorenson, MDA – Q & A
4:30-5:30pmLindsay Kuehn from FLAGG – Copyright Law Q & A
Jan. 9th Morning 
9:00 – 9:30Kathy Zeman, MFMA – Tax Talk
9:45 – 10:45Suzanne Driessen & Katherine Brandt, UME – All About Food Safety
11:00 – 12:00Final discussion – legislature we’re working on for 2021, any other questions anyone has.

Three More Days!!

Happy New Year everyone! We’re super excited to be starting off this year with our 3rd annual conference! We hope to see you all there.

You Are Invited to Attend the Minnesota Cottage Food Producers Annual Virtual Conference
January 7th – January 9th, 2021

This will be an evening preconference and two-day conference packed full of topics that include: organizational ideas, marketing your business, growing your social media presence, pricing your products for profit, food safety, copyright laws, demonstrations, and more! We will kick off the day with our keynote speaker followed by additional seminars that focus topics to help you strengthen your business.

Cost: $40 for non-members
Free – MNCFPA member ($35 annual membership)

Preconference schedule: Thursday evening January 7th – Meagan Forbes with the Institute for Justice will be speaking on the legislative process and how your voice can help create positive changes for cottage foods right here in Minnesota.

Conference Keynote Speaker: Kelly McManus, Founder, Food Makers Academy

Session Topic: Learn the secrets of how your own personal story can transform your brand and lead you to a vibrant and profitable business.

Summary: Starting ANY business is hard work, but it could be argued that starting a food business is even harder. Navigating permitting, licensing, recipes, ingredient sourcing, costing, the science of bacteria, selling, marketing, grocery stores, distributors all while keeping an eye on margins margins margins … well, it’s a wonder some days why we do what we do! The challenge is how to create a vibrant and profitable business over an exhaustive and expensive hobby.

So, where’s the best place to start? There’s one element that, if done with intention, can make a significant impact in a short amount of time. It’s an element that can flow through all three big business buckets—Sales & Marketing, Operations, and Finance—and transform your business.
This often-overlooked ingredient that can catapult a brand is … storytelling.

During this session, we’ll explore:
How your personal story—from childhood to now—can uncover and connect the core reasons of why you started your business in the first place–making your marketing and sales efforts flow as easily as breathing.
How to make this new story “visual” so that your marketing efforts—from websites to event display and everything in-between—can go from ho-hum to head-turning!
How this simple story can inform how you hire your team, set up processes, and scale your operations, making challenging decision-making easier.
How this story can command higher product pricing, bringing you better margins, and ultimately profit.

At the end of the session, you’ll have a clear path to give your story a voice and a front-row seat to create a business that feeds you.

For additional information: Conference Session/Topic Information

Register Now

About MN Cottage Food Producer’s Association….
On January 22nd, 2020 we established the Minnesota Cottage Food Producer’s Association. We are the only official Cottage Food Producer’s Association operating in the United States. Unfortunately, we have had a slow start because of Covid-19, but we are getting there. We provide all of the resources we can on our website and have been offering monthly educational classes on marketing, decorating techniques and anything else that would be of interest to cottage food producers. If you would like to become a member of our association or just check out our new website and resources there you can find us at mncfpa.org. The cottage food industry has become increasingly relevant. In particular this summer when there were food shortages in many neighborhoods. The cottage food producers were able to help provide bread and other important staples.
MNCFPA Membership

Exciting Conference Changes!

3rd Annual MN Cottage Food Producers Virtual Conference ~ January 7 – 9, 2020

Click Here To Register

We are excited to announce that our conference will now be held from January 7th to the 9th! We have such an interesting lineup that we didn’t want anyone to have to choose between any of them. Here is the tentative outline of our event schedule. We will have a more detailed schedule of events and hours as we get closer to the conference. Hope to see you there!

Jan. 7th ~ Evening Events

MN Cottage Food Producers Association Members Meeting

Discussing Legislature with Meagan Forbes

Jan. 8th ~ Morning Events

Keynote Speaker ~ Kelly McManus of the Food Makers Academy

Emily Lauer owner of Fruit and Grain – all about Social Media How To’s

Michele Vig owner of Neat Little Nest – Organization How To’s/ Q & A

Jan. 8th ~ Afternoon Events

Seth Werner of UME – Pricing for Profit

Alida Sorenson, MDA – Q & A

Lindsay Kuehn from FLAGG – Copy Right Law Q & A

Jan. 9th ~ Morning Events

Kathy Zeman, MFMA – Cottage Foods and Farmers’ Markets

Suzanne Driessen & Katherine Brandt, UME – All About Food Safety

Tax Talk – To Be Announced…

3rd Annual CFP Conference Coming Up Soon!

3rd Annual MN Cottage Food Producers Virtual Conference ~ January 7th & 8th, 2020

Click Here To Register

Here is a tentative outline of our event schedule. We will have a more detailed schedule of events and hours as we get closer to the conference. Hope to see you there!

Jan. 7th, 2021
MN Cottage Food Producers Association Members Meeting
Discussing Legislature with  Meagan Forbes
Jan. 8th, 2021
Keynote Speaker ~ Kelly McManus of the Food Makers Academy
Emily Lauer on Social Media How To’s
Michele Vig owner of Neat Little Nest – Organization How To’s/ Q & A
Break Away Events
MDA Q & A – Alida Sorenson Cookie Decorating How To’s – Julie Domaille
UME Food Safety – Suzanne Driessen & Kathy Brandt
MFMA – Kathy Zeman, Farmers’ Markets & CFPsCopy Right Law Q & A – Lindsay Kuehn

Have You Registered Yet?

MNCFPA’s upcoming 3rd Annual Cottage Food Producers Conference will be held on January 7th & 8th, 2021

We have so many interesting discussions and classes for you! Some of the high lights this year are:

Kelly McManus, founder of the Food Makers Academy who will be our Key Note Speaker.

Emily Lauer of Fruit and Grain, will help us navigate the often confusing world of social media advertising.

Michele Vig, owner of Neat Little Nest will share with us the secret of organization and how best to utilize our closet space.

The conference is Free for MNCFPA Members.

Non-Members: $40.00

To register on Eventbrite click this link: 3rd Annual Cottage Food Producers Conference.

3rd Annual Cottage Food Producers Conference

MNCFPA is excited to announce our upcoming 3rd Annual Cottage Food Producers Conference

January 7th & 8th, 2021

Our 2021 conference will be held virtually, so no need to navigate the snowy Minnesota streets this year. We will be presenting a series of interesting topics including our key note speaker, the fabulous Kelly McManus, founder of the Food Makers Academy.

The conference is Free for MNCFPA Members.

Non-Members: $40.00

To register on Eventbrite click this link: 3rd Annual Cottage Food Producers Conference.

MDA Registration Message

Hello! The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has sent an update on cottage food producer registrations. They will have a new more streamlined look.

For more information clink on the link: New Design and Format for Cottage Food Registration Cards

Nov. 2020 Update

Hello Everyone! Hope this finds you well. I have a few things to tell you.

Cottage Food Producer re-registrations have been sent out. If you haven’t received yours yet, you should soon. Re-registering online is quick and easy, but if for some reason you need help or have any questions, contact the Minnesota Department of Agriculture at 651-201-6081. If you have any changes you can not re-register online. You must fill out the form and send it to them either by scanning the form and emailing it to mda.cottagefood@state.mn.us, fax it to 651-201-6119 or mail to: Attn: Cottage Food Registrations, 625 Robert St. N., Saint Paul, MN, 55155-2538.

The University of Minnesota Extension is expanding its online education and resources to adapt to COVID-19 restrictions. Join this interactive Zoom webinar to increase your knowledge and awareness of food safety practices to produce and sell a safe cottage food product. Watch live food safety demonstrations. Interact with other cottage food producers. Create and execute COVD-19 precautions and develop a written COVID-19 Preparedness Plan to keep you, your family, and customers safe.

By taking this course, you will meet the training requirement of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to register or re-register as a cottage food producer for Tier 1 or Tier 2 food sales. Training is required every three years.

View all dates and locations

Registration cost is $50.00 Click here to Register

Register online by Dec. 1st, 2020. The Zoom link will be provided in a confirmation email.

Click here to read the most recent episode of the
Cottage Food Connection.

The MFMA Annual Conference registration is now available. This year the conference will be virtual and will take place December 1-5. This is a great place to learn, connect, and engage with other Minnesota farmers’ market managers, operators, growers, and makers. The conference is FREE for MFMA members and vendors/staff of a market that is an MFMA member. Cost for non-members is only $35. Check out conference highlights and registration details on the MFMA website. www.mfma.org

Save the date for our 3rd Annual Cottage Food Producers Conference. It will be held January 7th & 8th. It will be a virtual conference. More details coming soon, www.mncfpa.org.

Happy Thanksgiving!