Two More Food Safety Classes for 2016

Hi folks! We received some great news yesterday for anyone who still needs their Tier 2 food safety training. Suzanne Driessen has added two more classes, which will take place on December 17th. Please be advised, the MDA legally cannot allow people to register for the Tier 2 level without the Tier 2 training. This includes first time registrants as well as those renewing their registration. Tier 2 registration is for everyone who made or is sure they will make $5001.00 up to $18,000.00 gross. The information for the upcoming classes is posted below and also on the Cottage Food Law Facebook page.

                             Saturday, December 17, 2016 9 AM – Noon; Repeated 1-4 PM

University of Minnesota Extension, St. Cloud Regional Office

Maine Prairie Business Center

3601 18th Street South, Suite 113, St. Cloud, MN 56301-6012

The registration form flyer can be printed from our calendar on http://www.extension.umn.edu/food/food-safety/courses/cottage-foods/index.htmlClick on the time and title of the class you want to attend. Scroll down, click on more details to open a calendar and print the flyer under attachment.

                       

    

A Few Updates ~ Nov. 16th

Good afternoon you all! The other day I received a letter from David Crabill. He is the author of the Cottage Food Law page on Forrager. This is a great website to keep up to date on all the current cottage food laws in the United States, it is called the Forrager Cottage Food Community. He wanted to let us know that New Jersey is one of the states that still doesn’t allow home bakers and they really need our help. Here’s what David wrote and his request to us to please sign their petition.

One of New Jersey’s senators, Joe Vitale, has been using his powers as the chair of the Health and Human Services Committee to block all of his state’s cottage food bills from passing. Why? Because he does not personally agree with legalizing the sale of homemade food.

These modest bills have been getting unanimous approval by the assembly, who forward them to his committee. Apparently, Senator Vitale doesn’t trust his committee to make the “right” decision, because he refuses to even let his committee vote on them. Instead, the bills quietly die in their legislative session.

But the will of the people cannot be quieted forever. Support for cottage food laws has been growing in New Jersey since the creation of their first bill in 2009. I have always been impressed by their efforts, which have included social media campaigns, petitions, and even supporter t-shirts and badges.

This year, however, has been a breakout year for New Jersey. Increased transparency of Vitale’s solo mission to prevent cottage food has spurred citizens to take a stand, and I’ve witnessed a major push from them over the past few months. They have introduced two brand new cottage food bills, built a new website, started a newsletter, and most recently, created a new petition.

I encourage you to sign New Jersey’s petition. I don’t know if it will change the outcome of the bills this year, but at the very least, it shows a small token of support for the efforts they have been making.

David also wanted us to let us know that Delaware can now sell homemade food. They didn’t even have to get a bill passed. Their health department just decided to create new rules and requirements. I think that this could be either good or bad depending on what rules they want to enforce. However, at the moment it’s working in Delaware’s favor and restrictions to the cottage food law have been removed. Congratulations Delaware!

Our Minnesota re-registration notices for 2017 were sent out yesterday, Nov. 15th, 2016. You should begin receiving them in a day or two. Instructions for online re-registration is included in the letter.

One more thing, I’m sure you have heard that November 26th is considered Small Business Saturday. This was created to raise support for local businesses and is promoted by American Express. However, it might be a good opportunity to remind folks that cottage food producers are a part of their local business community also, maybe by offering a Small Business Saturday discount on holiday goodies or something like that. Anyway, it’s just a thought. 🙂

Have a great rest of the week you all!

 

Quick Update!

Hello everyone! Just a quick update to let you know that the online registration program will be ready for people to use this renewal round. The Department of Agriculture will be sending an attached instruction sheet along with paper renewal notices. The paper copies will go out in the mail around the 15th of November. You will be able to renew your registration online or just send in the paper registration. Whatever is easier for you.

If this is your first time to register to become a cottage food producer, please go to the Dept. of Agriculture’s website and follow the instructions on their Cottage Food Producer Registration page. Have a good day!

This & That

Hi everyone! What a beautiful start to November today has been! Hope you all have been able to enjoy it.

I have just a few quick things to share. We now have a total of 1,817 registered cottage food producers in Minnesota. We’ve come a long way since the law passed and it’s only going to get better. There are so many of you who have told me of the successful summer you’ve had and I couldn’t be more happy and excited for you all!

Re-registrations forms for 2017 will be sent out from the Department of Agriculture soon. Be sure to fill them out and send them back immediately. Remember your 2016 registration ends on Dec. 31st, 2016.

Today was the last Food Safety class given by Suzanne Driessen. She is in the process of putting together classes for 2017. If you want to attend a class in a specific area please let Suzanne know: . Folks please remember, food safety classes are required by the Dept. Of Agriculture as part of our registration process. There is a short class for Tier 1 producers and a little bit longer class for Tier 2 producers. But the classes are very interesting and only have to be renewed every three years.

Our Texas cottage food friends posted a good reminder on their Facebook page the other day and I wanted to share it will you all.  The Holiday season is upon us and now is a good time to remember what homemade foods are allowed to be sold under the cottage food law. The good news: fruit pies, pumpkin loaves, fudge, divinity, caramel popcorn, and pretty much any kind of cookie are ALL allowed! The bad news: things that require refrigeration are not allowed, and this means pumpkin pie. You can find a list of non-potentially hazardous foods allowed to be sold on the Minnesota Farmer’s Market Association website, https://mfma.wildapricot.org/CFL.
Have a great week!

 

Registration Update

Hello everyone! Hope you are enjoying this beautiful fall weather we’re having. We received an update from Suzanne Driessen today, it is as follows:

“I had a meeting with folks at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture this week. Renewal notices for MN Registered Cottage Food Producers will go out mid-November. If you are switching to a Tier 2 producer level (over $5000) in 2017 and you haven’t taken the Tier 2 course, your application will be rejected. There is one more course this year in Cloquet on November 1, 2016. http://www.extension.umn.edu/…/food-…/courses/cottage-foods/. In 2017, we will ramp up course offerings and locations. We are also developing an online option for Tier 2.”

Suzanne will be setting up classes for 2017 soon. If you haven’t taken the food safety class, please let her know where you are located so that she can plan next years schedule accordingly. Remember EVERYONE who is a registered cottage food producer is required to take a food safety class. It doesn’t take that long, it is very informative and it only has to be renewed every 3 years.

Have a great day!

September 2016 ~ Happy Fall!

Hello everyone! It’s hard to believe that another summer has come and gone. It has been so exciting to hear that many of you had a very successful summer. From blue ribbons to sold out events, the news has been wonderful! It’s also been great to see all of the new websites and blogs. On the MN Registered Cottage Foods Producers Group, found on Facebook, many of you have shared your websites and success stories, discussed sales and cooking techniques, and so many other things. It has been a pleasure getting to know the cottage food producers of Minnesota.

We are happy to report that so many have been diligent in registering and making sure to attend the food safety classes. We know that it’s not always easy to attend the classes, but Suzanne Driessen and her colleagues are doing the very best they can to accommodate everyone. If you want to have a class in your area and can get a group of interested folks together, please let Suzanne know. She is happy to try to work something out. At this time there is a class scheduled for October 13th in St Cloud, 10 people are already signed up. If you would like to attend you can find more information here: flyer-template-cottage-foods-2016-st-cloud

The Minnesota Farmer’s Market Association is a great place to find useful information. They have a section called FMPP Farmers’ Market Academy Videos, which among all of the other info, has a Youtube video of Suzanne Driessen giving one of her classes. Check it out!

Even though we are only just beginning fall, some of you have already been asking about re-registering for 2017. At this time I am waiting for more information from the Department of Agriculture on how they will contact everyone this year. Please be patient and as soon as I know I will update you on how to proceed. (For those of you who do not know, your 2016 registration expires on December 31st, 2016. You will need to re-register before the end of December to make sure that you have your 2017 registration on January 1st.)

At this time there are 1,748 registered cottage food producers in Minnesota. Obviously that is far less than the number of people actually selling cottage foods in the farmer’s markets, from home and at events. It’s up to us to make sure we spread the word. There are still a lot of people who just don’t know yet. Please be sure to share this information with others. Thank you!

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Happy Fall You All!

 

 

 

 

Just A Few Things…

Hi folks! I hope you are managing to beat the heat and have had some time to enjoy your summer. I just wanted to share a few things with you today.

For those of you who do not know, there are two upcoming Tier 2 safety classes being given by Suzanne Driessen. The first one will be in Rochester on July 28th, from 2 to 5pm. Registration ends today so please call quickly. Flyer template Cottage Foods 2016 Rochester The second one is in Farmington on August 4th, from 9am to 12pm. I will post the link to the information here. Flyer template Cottage Foods 2016 Farmington If you are interested please let them know right away. The deadline for signing up is July 28th and they are asking for a minimum of 20 people to attend. So if you haven’t already done your training, or know of someone who hasn’t done it yet, these are great opportunities to do so. Please remember that this class also meets the Tier 1 training and that it’s good for 3 years.

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook today. It was so neat that I had to share it. For any of you attending the farmer’s markets as vendors, this would be a great idea! Check out this portable farm stand. It was built by Elliot Coleman and you can read more about it on the Facebook page, “Homesteading/Survivalism”.

Portable-Farm-Stand[1]

We want to welcome all of the new friends who have Liked our Facebook page over the summer. It’s gratifying to see our cottage food community growing. Just a reminder, there is a group page “MN Registered Cottage Food Producers” which is a nice place to share information, discuss techniques, support and gather advice from each other. If you’d like to join the only requirement is that you are a registered cottage food producer with the MDA.

Have a great summer!

Happy Anniversary!

Happy 1 Year Anniversary to us! It’s been exactly a year now since we officially became legal. 🙂
As in all relationships there are always things to work out, but I think we’ve made a lot of progress this year. We have so many people registered and as the word spreads, no doubt our numbers will continue to grow. More and more often cottage food folks are being positively acknowledged in the media and farmer’s markets are becoming more popular. Most of the home based bakers I’ve spoken to have had a lot of fun getting their businesses going, especially now that advertising online is allowed. It’s been an exciting year and I can’t wait to see what next year holds!

 

Sharing Success!

Good morning! As our July anniversary nears I’ve been hearing more and more about the success of our fellow cottage food operators. There are so many successful bakers, jam & preserve makers, pickles & spice foodies out there that share the benefits of the cottage food law. It’s just awesome!! This morning I am going to share a wonderful article that the St Cloud times wrote about Cupkate’s. She is another shining example of why we fought so hard for so many years to get this law passed. Have a wonderful day you all and please, share your stories with us. We all love sharing your success!

Local Baker Takes The Cake With Homemade Cupcakes
http://www.sctimes.com/story/life/food/2016/06/21/local-baker-takes-cake-unique-homemade-cupcakes/85237592/

For some reason I can’t get the link feature to work this morning. If you copy and paste the link it should take you straight to the article. I will also repost the article on our MN Cottage Food Law Facebook page.

 

May 23, 2016

Hello you all! Hope life is treating you well. I have few bits of news to share with you. I spoke with the very kind and helpful Val from the MDA the other day and found out that since our bill passed a year ago and came into effect on July 1st, 2015 we have had 1313 people register with the Dept. of Agriculture. I think that’s really great and hope this coming year is even more successful.

There have been a lot of questions regarding sales taxes. I’m not going to lie, even after talking to the lady at the Minnesota Revenue office, I’m still kind of confused. The number I called at the Sales and Use Tax Division is 651-296-6181 or 1-800-657-3777. I told her others would probably be calling. She was very nice about it. From what I understand, if you are selling at a Farmer’s Market or other exhibit you do need to charge sales tax on certain items. For instance if you are providing a plate or eating utensil so the item is eaten there, then it must be taxed. If you are selling jams or spices it requires a sales tax. You can refer to this fact sheet for some information on that, FS148 Tax Info. You do need to register as a Sole Proprietor to do this and when you sign up it gives you directions on how to file your sales taxes and other information you need such as keeping your gross receipts, etc. She said this tax sheet tells you how to figure out how much sales tax to charge, FS164. As for selling prepared foods like bakery items from home that are not going to be eaten on the spot, it looks like you do not need to charge a sales tax. You can refer to this tax sheet for information, 102D Prepared Food. But honestly folks, you should call your accountant or the Minnesota Revenue office for more information.

As many of you know the 2016 Minnesota Legislative session has come to a close. We had a few items that we needed clarified such as the question of becoming an LLC. and although Rep. Newberger did his best, on this subject they would not budge.

Another issue was the wording at the beginning of the MDA’s website which previously stated, ” If you operate a business out of your home you are not eligible to apply for this registration and will not be registered. Businesses include firms, partnerships, cooperatives, societies, associations, companies and corporations.” After Rep. Newberger spoke with them it now reads like this, “This registration is for individuals only (including sole-proprietorships). Businesses such as firms, partnerships, corporations, societies, associations, and companies may not be registered as a cottage food producer.”

Also, on the MDA’s Cottage Food Law FAQ sheet the question referring to home inspections was clarified and now reads, “The MDA does not intend to conduct routine regulatory inspections of homes where cottage foods are produced. However, if food sold by someone who is registered is suspected or confirmed to be a source of illness or injury, the department may investigate the location where the food was produced. Under Minnesota Law the department has the authority to enter at reasonable times any establishment where food is manufactured, processed, packed or held. Inspection and investigation activities would be limited to areas of the location where food is manufactured, processed, packed or held. Inspections may occur at farmers’ markets or community events to verify registration and that food is being sold in a manner consistent with Minnesota Food Law and Minnesota Consolidated Food Licensing Law.”

We want to give a very big thanks to Rep. Newberger for everything he does for us!

That’s all the news for today. Wishing you all a safe Memorial Day weekend and a lovely rest of May!