Hello Folks! I want to thank everyone who joined us this morning as we talked about the COVID-19 Preparedness Plan template that we have created for Cottage Food Producers. Many thanks to the University of MN Extension and the Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture for their help and guidance. We had a good discussion. If you were unable to attend there are links to this information on our website mncfpa.org. Since there were some people who were not aware of the webinar we had today, but would have liked to join us, we have decided to hold another one on July 16th. The information is below:
CFPs COVID-19 Preparedness Plan Overview/Guidance
When: Thu Jul 16, 2020 3pm – 4pm Central Time – Chicago
Join Zoom Meeting
umn.zoom.us/j/94599143042?pwd=Um… (ID: 94599143042, password: 9I353D)
Join by phone
(US) +1 312-626-6799
Join using SIP
firstname.lastname@example.org (passcode: 204952)
New MFMA Zoom Open Forum Dates
Now that market season is in full-swing, the MFMA Weekly Thursday Open Forums will be changing to every 1st and 3rd Monday of the month at 1:00pm. There will not be a meeting this Thursday, July 9th. The next Zoom Open Forum will be Monday, July 20th at 1:00 pm. Mark your calendar for the following dates and join us for an open discussion on all issues related to Minnesota Farmers’ Markets.
- July 20 1:00 pm
- Aug. 3 1:00 pm
- Aug. 17 1:00 pm
- Sept. 7 1:00 pm
- Sept. 21 1:00 pm
ZOOM INVITE: Every 1st and 3rd Mondays of the month– 1:00 PM (CST)
https://zoom.us/j/115650186 Meeting ID: 115 650 186
(312) 626 6799 US (Chicago)
Hello! Tomorrow morning there will be a webinar discussing the COVID preparedness plan that all businesses have been asked to have by the Governor. If you would like to attend please join us.
UPDATED – COVID-19 Preparedness Plan
Wed Jul 8, 2020 9am – 10am Central Time – Chicago
Join Zoom Meeting
umn.zoom.us/j/95280743148?pwd=eF… (ID: 95280743148, password: j512bT)
Join by phone
(US) +1 646-558-8656
Join using SIP
email@example.com (passcode: 438420)
Wow! It’s been five years since the bill was passed and went in effect on July 1st, 2015! It’s really hard to believe how far we have come. Even harder to believe that this all began nearly 11 years ago. A lot of you may not know this but by the time the bill came to be voted on in 2015, a very small group of us had already been working to get this bill passed for over 6 years.
It all began when I had the great idea of renting a small shop where I had planned to sell items already baked in my kitchen. I’d thought that this would be a great way to get my baking known and make some money in order to expand. It would also help to see what interest there might be in the area before I invested more money into a real bakery.
So, armed with this wonderful idea I started checking into exactly what I would need to do this. Lo and behold, I found out that not only could this grand idea never be, but that even selling my baked goods from home at all was illegal. I did not know this, nor would I have even ever thought of it!
I’m not too proud to admit that I was crushed and I called my husband and yes, there were some tears. I said, “Honey I can’t bake my cakes anymore!” and he said, “Well, you aren’t going to want to hear this but if you don’t like the law you have to change it.” And so, I who had never been particularly interested in politics of any kind, set out to do just that.
I started doing lots of research into how people legally sell baked goods from their homes in other states. At that time only 25 states even had a cottage food law. (Now every state has one except New Jersey.) I discovered that the Cottage Food Law had been amended and passed in Michigan just a few months before I started my quest, which gave me a perfect starting point on how to proceed.
Then I found out that a lady by the name of Christy Stefanick had already gotten things rolling in Minnesota by creating the first petition and Facebook page to generate awareness of the fact that selling baked goods from your home was illegal in our state. I took over managing these two things for her not long after. Together with my friends Joleen, Amanda, and Marianne we continued to fight the battle. A lot of people did not even know such a law as the “cottage food law” existed or that it needed to be amended.
I spoke to my district Representative Jim Newberger about amending the bill and he immediately went to work on it. Our group sent 100’s of letters, spent hours on the telephone talking to states reps, people like Denay Davis who had already passed this law in two other states and the Harvard Legal Food Division. We reached out to the local newspapers, and even tried to get the television news channels involved. We did hours of research comparing the different state laws and how we could best implement them here. A friend of mine created a logo for us and we made up flyers to hand out at the fairs and other local events. We tried to get others in Minnesota involved. We set up centralized meetings inviting everyone interested in amending the cottage food law to attend. We sent out a survey asking the people of Minnesota to respond with their suggestions, ideas and how they could assist with this quest and that is when Karen Peterson and Jennifer Carriveau joined our little group.
In 2015 we had finally got to the place where things were lining up. Kathy Zeman from the Minnesota Farmers Market Association had begun working with us, all of the Departments such as the MN Dept. of Agriculture, the MN Dept. of Health and the MN Food Association, were on board and we had bipartisan support in Representative Newberger and Senator Dibble. Finally, it looked like we were getting somewhere. We had to make a few concessions but we decided it was a good beginning.
The decision was made but the battle wasn’t over yet. We still had to get it through two committees in both the House and Senate. I don’t remember who all attended these meetings but I know Kathy and Marianne were at every one of them, sitting for hours to testify on our behalf. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Some of the Representatives and Senators were just plain rude. Believe me; Kathy and Marianne are saints for sitting through all of that. But finally, after one last hold your breath moment, Governor Dayton signed the bill and we were legally allowed to become home-based cottage food producers.
Guess what? That was just the beginning of a whole new adventure. Now the fun began as Ben Miller and his team at the MN Dept. of Agriculture rushed to set up a cottage foods website, registration processing and how to best implement the food safety regulations. Suzanne Driessen at the University of Minnesota Extension and her team had to set up a cottage foods website, food safety classes, and many other things they do for the cottage food industry. Kathy and her people at the Minnesota Farmers Market Association updated their website to add the cottage food laws, links and regulations to it. I continued to author the Facebook page, blog and twitter accounts in an effort to keep everyone updated on everything that goes on concerning Cottage Food Producers and answering questions. All of this had to be done before July 1st, 2015 and I think everyone did a really good job with the amount of time we had.
Throughout the past few years, we have continued to work to get the law amended, to make sure we can donate our products and to fix other small things that came up here and there, to continue the fight to become LLC’s and to increase our income.
It should also be noted that over the years everyone involved has come a long way. The MDA has a wonderful team that works hard for the cottage food producers. The U of M Extension has been amazing in educating us on food safety, holding classes and making it easier and easier to comply with registration regulations. The MFMA has done the same. I think they deserve a lot more credit than they receive. And of course we can never forget Karen and the other ladies who help answer and assist with questions on the MN Cottage Food Producers Group Chat.
The first year after the bill passed, we had about 500 registered Cottage Food Producers in Minnesota, today we have over 5000. 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. If you would like to become a member of our association or just check out our new website and resources there, you can click the link here: mncfpa.org
It’s been so exciting to watch this industry become recognized and evolve all over the United States. We’ve accomplished a lot and we aren’t done yet. Stay tuned and watch our pages and websites. We have so many ideas in the works and we’re going to need everyone’s help!
Happy 5th Anniversary Everyone!
Thank you to the MFMA for supplying this updated information for safe food sampling in the farmer’s markets.
As always the MFMA has an open forum for any questions at 1:00 pm every Thursday.
We have been asked to share the following updates with all of our Cottage Food Producers.
All farmers’ markets, farmers, & food makers need to have a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan on file by June 29, 2020. Concerning our CFP’s, I think this is mostly relevant for those of you who are market vendors. However, all Cottage Food Producers probably should fill this out to the best of your ability and keep it on hand as you are food makers.
Farmers’ markets, farmers, and food makers were designated critical businesses under Executive Order 20-48 in April of 2020. By June 29, 2020, all critical sector businesses, including all farmers’ markets, farmers, and food makers, are required to develop and implement a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan which complies with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) COVID-19 guidelines and OSHA standards. You do NOT have to send your plan to anyone, you just need to keep it on file and follow it.
The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) has created a preparedness plan template which includes all required plan components and is available in Hmong, Somali, and Spanish.
- COVID-19 Preparedness Plan template and instructions (updated June 15, 2020) – Word document | PDF
- Translated versions of Word document (updated May 30, 2020) – Hmong | Somali | Spanish
A Stay Safe Minnesota website with additional information can be found here: Stay Safe Plan for safely reopening Minnesota
Good morning everyone! I wanted to share a few things with you. First of all, as you know the last legislative session ended pretty crazy. Our chief supporters Sen. Andrew Mathews and Rep. Todd Lippert tried really hard to get our bills heard but unfortunately, due to the demands that were put upon them because of the coronavirus, and several delays by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, our bills were tabled. We will try again next year. I have no doubt that we can achieve our goals if we persevere. But we need your help. We can’t do this alone. Reach out to your legislatures and tell them how important being a Cottage Food Producer is to you and your household. So many of us were able to not only continue to help support our families during this difficult time, but have been a major help to our communities. Don’t just send one letter, keep sending updates. Unless we make our voices loud enough, we will not be heard. The Cottage Food Industry is growing every day and we are here to stay.
I want to take a minute to welcome all of the new members who have become a part of the Minnesota Cottage Food Producers Association. We’re looking forward to doing some exciting things in the future. If you would like to become a member of the MNCFPA just click on our website: mncfpa.org
The University of Minnesota Extension has published their most recent Cottage Food Connection newsletter. It’s was very nice of them to highlight our new association and website. There is also some great tips for food safety and it was super exciting to see that one of our MNCFPA board members was in the Producers Spotlight. If you would like to subscribe to receive your own newsletter just click this link: Cottage Food Connection or I have scanned it for you to read here. CF Connections
Last but not least I want to remind you that the Minnesota Farmer’s Market Association is holding a weekly Zoom session every Thursday to discuss everything related to the Farmer’s Markets. There are a few clarifications to some questions regarding the coronavirus that have been updated below. Have a great week!
Good morning! I want to share with you a letter from David Crabill with an update about the North Dakota cottage food producers. Sending positive vibes to our North Dakota friends!
“I wanted to tell you about what’s currently happening in North Dakota. You might remember the North Dakota fiasco from one of my previous emails.
Basically, at the beginning of this year, the ND health department gutted their state’s 2017 food freedom law without the legislature’s approval.
Now, five bakers in North Dakota, with help from the Institute for Justice, are suing their state to bring their law back.
Although this process started two month ago, the Institute for Justice decided to delay the case to allow the health department to focus on addressing the coronavirus.
But now they’re pushing forward again, and as a result, many news articles have picked up the story in the past couple of weeks. Here’s a great Forbes article about the lawsuit.
Erica Smith from the Institute for Justice talked about this case a few weeks ago in podcast episode #6, and she had some not-so-nice things to say about ND’s health department.
The overall impression I got from Erica was along the lines of “they’re going down!” I really think she and the Institute for Justice are not going to let up on this until they get their law back.
I’m kind of sad, but not surprised, to have to announce that our bills will not be heard in this year’s legislative session. I spoke with Sen. Mathews and at this time there is still too much discussion needed on our bills and the only bills they are hearing are the ones that have total bipartisan agreement from all four committees.
However, I believe that if this COVID-19 pandemic had not occurred we would have accomplished a lot, as we had tremendous bipartisan support both in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Sen. Mathews has assured me that he won’t give up, even if it takes a little longer and I have no doubt that Rep. Lippert will continue working with us as well.
In the meanwhile, we have a great opportunity to continue pressing forward and preparing so that when the 2021 session begins, the name Cottage Food Producers will make every single member of the Minnesota Legislature say, “Just give them what they need for heaven’s sake!”
It is up to every one of us to contact our district senators and representatives. Yes, even now and as often as possible. Tell them why being a cottage food producer is so important to you, how much a livable income is not only your right, but a very real necessity. Especially in a time like this where jobs are scarce and many cottage food producers are still able to support their families, as well as provide a much-needed service to their communities. Explain how the limit on the amount of income you are allowed to make severely handicaps and jeopardizes your business’s ability to continue. Explain how important it is to have the option to become an LLC, to protect your hard work and livelihood.
We need to have every single person we know out campaigning for us and if we can get our Minnesota Cottage Food Producers Association known and recognized, we will have a stronger united voice and people will stop and take notice. There are still so many people who have no knowledge that cottage food producers exist or that there is such a law with these restrictions. We need to change that. If you would like to become a member of the MNCFPA please click here: Membership Form
For my part I will be working very hard to research and follow every outlet that we can. We have an op-ed ready to be published, we will pursue other news outlets, we will do whatever we can to finally be recognized as a legitimate industry not only in our state, but in the entire country. Together we can get this done.
If any of you have suggestions, ideas or connections, we would love to hear from you. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, I want to thank everyone who worked so hard to help us this session. Sen. Mathews, Rep. Lippert and everyone who co-authored and signed our bills. Meagan Forbes from the Institute for Justice for your wisdom and guidance. Kathy Zeman of the MFMA, Aaron Wills of Little Hill Berry Farm, and our own MNCFPA members who took time to rally at the capitol for many meetings and long days of campaigning. Thank you!
We have a lot of work ahead of us. Let’s do this!
Hello everyone! Many thanks to the food safety division of the University of Minnesota Extension for keeping us food safe and aware. They have put together a guideline specifically for cottage food producers here in Minnesota. Thank you to the cottage food producers who shared their information and safe practices with us.