Minnesota Cottage Food Law For Home Bakers

American traditions were founded on patriotic pride, helping our fellow man, working hard, and believing in our rights and freedoms. It was all about being an American and Mom’s Apple Pie. For a while now these things have slowly been taken away from us. It’s as if we are supposed to be ashamed of our hard fought freedoms, beliefs, and pride in who we are.

I believe that this is happening so subtly that many are totally unaware of its occurrence. For instance, are you aware that there is law against selling your home baked goods in many states? Minnesota is one of them.

How many times did you have the local neighborhood lady bake a birthday cake or a wedding cake for you? How many of us have either heard the stories or know of someone who baked wonderful cakes and pies to help supplement the family income? How many huge businesses of today began from their kitchen? I have no idea when this all changed and, until recently, was totally unaware that it had.

About a 2 years ago, 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 ever thought of it!

This led to my doing lots of research into how people legally sell baked goods from their homes. Guess what? They can’t! Great. That’s when I discovered the Cottage Law that had been passed in Michigan just a few months before I started my quest. This led to my finding the Minnesota petition that a fellow home baker had started, and not too long after, I found out that the Minnesota Cottage Food Law had a Facebook page which was started by the same person. One day I saw that the creator of this page was asking for help. I had just lost my job due to our store closing in June of 2012, so I told her that I would be glad to help out. It’s mostly because of her that things got moving in Minnesota.

I first contacted Representative Mary Kiffmeyer. She promised that she would be happy to help. I also wrote to and met with Senator Dave Brown and Representative Jim Newberger, who have been a great help to us with their hard work, support, and advice.

In 2011, the House of Representatives made some revisions to the Minnesota Statutes which are found in 28A.15 Exclusions, Subdivision 9 that state:

Community event or farmers’ market. An individual who prepares and sells food that is not potentially hazardous food, as defined in rules adopted under section 31.11, at a community event or farmers’ market with gross receipts of $5,000 or less in a calendar year from the prepared food items. If the food is not prepared in a kitchen that is licensed or inspected, the seller must post a visible sign or placard stating that: “These products are homemade and not subject to state inspection.” Prepared foods sold under this subdivision must be labeled to accurately reflect the name and address of the person preparing and selling the foods.”

This basically means that we can bake our products at home, but can only sell them in Farmers Markets, Bake Sales, and Fund Raisers. We cannot advertise. We cannot exceed $5000.00 gross income. We must make sure everything is labeled as “Homemade”, with our names, address, phone number, and the ingredients found in the item.

While this is a nice beginning, it is not the solution to the Home Bakers problem. We still need some amendments made to help Home Bakers to succeed as lucrative businesses, and to sell directly from our homes.

We need a Cottage Food Law that allows us to:

* Advertise to the public, at least using social media sites, so that we can build a customer base in the community and online.

* Increase the amount of money that can be made in the course of a year or remove the cap completely.

* Post information about the guidance for home food processing on the state Dept. of Agriculture website, in plain language, for the citizens to understand.

This bill has already been passed in 34 states, in various different forms, but all ultimately resulted in the ability for home based bakers to start operating. I believe that this will be a great enhancement to the economy, and help to supplement homemakers who are trying to make ends meet in these difficult times.

For the past few years we have sent out letters to every single Minnesota State Senator and Representative explaining our dilemma and requesting that they will please consider revising the Cottage Food Law Bill in our favor. We received back some replies with promises to help. We ask that you please be sure to keep this in mind when you vote for your local Representative.

In the 2013 session of the Minnesota State Legislature, we had wonderful champions in Rep. Jim Newberger and Sen. Dave Brown. They managed to get the bill they drafted coauthored by: Rep. Urdahl; Rep. Howe; Rep. Kahn; Rep. Drazkoski; Rep. Swedzinski; Sen. Scalze and Sen. Kiffmeyer. Rep. Newberger was able to present the bill before the House of Representatives, which was then voted on. Although we lost, with the vote being 60 – 70, we were thrilled with the progress, and can’t thank all of our House supporters enough!

As of this moment, we have over 1000 signatures on our petitions. We would very much appreciate your added signature. To sign our petition on Change.org please click on this link: http://t.co/WpnK47XO

We have 434 “Likes” on our MN Cottage Food Law Facebook page. Please go to our page and “Like” us. You can also read the letters we have sent out, and get updated info on our progress. We have also set up a Twitter Page concerning the Cottage Bill Law. You can follow us there at @MNCottageLaw.

If you would like to find out more about the Cottage Food Laws, there are several websites concerning this. I used some of the info for this blog from an article written by Jessica on Cottage Food Laws.com. There is some info on “The Sustainable Economics Law Center”  which talks about the Cottage Bill that was recently passed in California and has other good information on it. Another good source which you can also access from Facebook is HomeBasedBaking.com.

We’d like to thank you for taking time to read this, and also for your support in passing the Minnesota Cottage Food Law Bill.

Happy Baking!

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