March Updates

Hello everyone! If you are like me cabin fever has set in and I’m so happy to see spring on the horizon. Folks are getting ready for spring vendor events and soon opening farmers markets. Brides are preparing for June weddings and seniors are preparing for upcoming graduations. Business should soon be booming for everyone! So please remember that if you are a Cottage Foods Producer you must be registered with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Currently we have 1,163 registered cottage food producers. Last year we had double that amount so please remember re-registration is not automatic, you must reapply every year. If you have any questions contact the MN Dept. of Agriculture.

Suzanne Driessen has informed me that the food safety classes are going well this year. Attendance has been great. 63 people attended the 3 classes that she has taught so far and 30 people attended the Local Foods College webinar.

She has also informed me that there is a simplified version of the webinar that would qualify for Tier 1 training. It is called Cottage Food Law LFC 2017, just click the link.  Folks can also watch the videos on the MFMA website to meet the Tier 1 training requirement. If you would like to use either of these video options, you will need to email Suzanne for the exam, driessen@umn.edu; that way she has it on record that you took the training.  Or you can do the training from the MDA website and take their exam. The Tier 2 online course is being worked on and we’ll let you know when it is completed. Until then Tier 2 food safety training classes have been posted in the events section of the MN Cottage Food Law Facebook page.

Another cool thing that has happened recently is that the University of Minnesota Extension has redesigned their web page. They have added videos and resources for product sampling and transferred their FAQ webpage into a blog. Check it out here: Safe Food Sampling at Farmers Markets.

Recently I have read a few articles that I thought some of you might be interested in. The links are below. Have a very lucky March 🙂

The Price Is Wrong

Making Money on the Homestead – Cottage Laws

Run A Cottage Food Business From Your Own Kitchen

 

 

 

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Scam Alert!

Good morning all! Please be aware and alert! Unfortunately several of our Minnesota cottage food producers have been receiving the following text message and/or others similar to the one below:

16864473_10210705413965719_2983056298479388139_n2If you have received this or anything similar to it please delete it from your call logs immediately. As a matter of fact it is recommended by AVG that you clear your call log every few days just as a precaution.

There are many scams out there. As the Cottage Food Industry picks up around the country I am sure we will see more and more. Unfortunately a lot of our information is general public knowledge since we must provide it on our labels. Please be sure to use as many precautions as you can. Never give anyone your bank account information to transfer money to you. Never do a large order for anyone until you have received a down payment to at least cover you ingredients. Make sure your down payment is in cash or if you do accept checks, be sure they have cleared before purchasing large amounts of ingredients.

I’m sure there are many more precautions we should be aware of. If you think of any, feel free to share. I am attaching an article from the Consumer Report website that explains the science of a scam. There is a lot of useful information on their website. Take care you all and be safe!

The Science Of Scam ~ Consumer Report

 

 

February 2017 Update

Happy February you all! I have a few updates for you this morning.

First I have to inform you all that Valerie Gambel, our favorite person at the Dept. of Agriculture, has been given a different position and will no longer be our go to contact there. She has been a wonderful help to us and we can’t thank her enough for everything she has done to advance the cottage food industry here in Minnesota. Mr. James Roettger  will now be our contact for any questions or concerns you have regarding the cottage food law. His email is: James.Roettger@state.mn.us

The University of Minnesota Extension has re-designed their cottage food page. There are updates to the Cottage Food FAQ’s page and there is a great page with information about upcoming safety classes and workshops. It’s easier to see what classes are coming up and easier to register for them: Cottage Food Producer Food Safety Training

I want to encourage anyone who isn’t already following the Minnesota Farmer’s Market Association Facebook page to do so. There is always interesting information to be found and farmer’s markets are a great place to sell your products.

In the past I have mentioned David Crabill and his great website Forrager, which is a wonderful resource for all kinds of cottage food information all over the United States. He recently sent me a letter with a few highlights from 2016:

And he noted that this year he will be keeping tabs on Connecticut and New Jersey, as they are both close to ending their battles to get a cottage food law implemented. According to the Cottage Food Law CT Movement on Facebook, if all goes well they should have everything finalized by April 2017.

That’s it for now. Have a great day!

 

 

Happy New Year 2017!

Hello everyone! It’s a new year with new opportunities and a whole lot of hope that it’s a great one for us all!

2016 ended with a total of 1,973 registered cottage food producers in Minnesota. As of a few days ago less than half that number have re-registered. Please remember that all registrations expired on Dec. 31st, 2016. All of the re-registration forms have been sent out. If you did not receive one you can re-register online following the instructions below. If anyone needs their PIN they can call or email the MDA and the kind folks there will quickly find it for you. 

Step-by-Step instructions to renew on-line $0 – 5,000:

1.    Go to our website which is www.mda.state.mn.us

2.    Click on “Apply / Renew a License”

3.    Click on “RENEW my license”

4.    Enter your License Number (xxxxxxxx)

5.    Enter your PIN (xxxx)

6.    Click Renew License

7.    Enter the following information:

a.    Amount of food sales (gross sales amount, not net sales)

b.    Checklist of items you produce – then click “Next”

c.    Training date, if it is not shown please enter your most recent training date – then click “Next”

d.    Contact name, title, telephone, fax if applicable, and email address – then click “Agree, Continue” (If you sold less than $5000, this will be your last screen. When you click on “Yes, I agree”, your registration will be renewed)

Step-by-Step instructions to renew on-line $5,000 – $18,000:

Complete steps 1-7 as shown above

8.    Verify purchase and write down PAYMENT ID (this number is required if you are paying with an e-check), then click on “Enter Payment Information”. You will then leave the MDA website and enter US Bank’s website. Follow the prompts and enter information when required.
Note: US Bank charges a 2.5% handling fee for each renewal transaction.

9.    Print copies of the receipts for your records. 
**PLEASE NOTE: If you are paying with an e-check, you will not be able to renew your license online without the payment ID.  If you forget to either print the page or write down your Payment ID and are unable to renew your license, try closing completely out of your browser and then restart the renewal process.  If this doesn’t work you will need to call us at the number below or mail in your renewal with payment.

On December 17th, 2016 Suzanne Driessen held the last food safety class of the year. We were really happy that 18 people attended this class and we want to give Suzanne a big thank you for traveling all over the state last year to teach these classes for us. Suzanne has already scheduled several food safety classes for this year. You can find them on the University of Minnesota Extension website and I have added them to the events part of our MN Cottage Food Law Facebook page. These classes are very interesting and informative. All Tier 2 Cottage Food Producers, meaning that you plan to gross between $5,000.00 to $18,000.00 this year, must attend a Tier 2 level food safety class.  These food safety courses only need to be retaken every 3 years.

We continue to have a few new people joining our page every week. We welcome you and we wish you all the best in your endeavors to become a Minnesota cottage food producer. You can find most of the answers to any questions you may have on the Minnesota Farmer’s Market Association website, as well as links to other helpful resources. By the way, if you are planning to sell any of your foods at the many farmer’s markets the MFMA is a great thing to become a member of.

For those of you who may not know, we also have a Twitter account @MNCottageLaw and a Facebook group page for MN Cottage Food Producers to share ideas and other information.

Some of you have been following the progress of the New Jersey Cottage Food folks on Facebook. At this time their bill has once again passed the Assembly unanimously and  they are waiting to hear back from the Red Tape Review and getting their Bill posted for a Senate Hearing. The CT Cottage Food Movement looks to be doing pretty good. They report that there is only one more hurdle to pass which is the Regulation Review Committee in their legislature. So fingers crossed they could have their bill passed within a month or two. I’m afraid there isn’t much new news from the Wisconsin cottage food page. They are all happy for any new supporters so please continue to show them some love and encouragement.

Have a great day and best wishes to you all for a wonderfully successful new year!

Updates & 2017 Food Safety Classes Info

Hello everyone! I hope this finds you well and keeping warm. For all of you who haven’t yet seen the Facebook post from today, the December 17th food safety classes have been changed. There will only be one class given that day from 9am to 12 pm. This class is for both Tiers 1 and 2.

Suzanne Driessen has given me the new schedule for Food Safety Training in 2017. Please take note and attend one of these classes if you have not already done so. These classes are legally required for all Tier 2 registered food producers. The classes are very interesting and informative for all cottage food producers. You will learn how to produce, package and label your products safely. These classes are also a good opportunity to ask Suzanne any specific questions you might have with regards to food safety. Please click this link for the 2017 dates and locations: cottage-foods-workshop-schedule-2017

By now everyone who needs to re-register for 2017 should have received their letters in the mail with instructions on how to re-register online. It is very easy to do and works very quickly. I received my new registration card two days after I filled out the online information.  If you have any problems contact the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, mda.cottagefood@state.mn.us

It’s so exciting to think that this is the second registration card many of us have applied for. The year 2016 has been very successful for many of you and I am so happy for you! Hopefully 2017 will be even better for Minnesota cottage food producers. Maybe I will actually find time to bake myself! Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

 

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!