Three states make it easier for home cooks to be entrepreneurs –

With a flurry of new food freedom laws, more and more states are allowing home food producers to do what they’ve been doing since the dawn of commerce: sell their produce directly to customers without the heavy burdens. a commercial food license. This wave of legislation comes at a time when the pandemic has shaken the food industry and locked the nation into their homes, leading many astute individuals to turn to home food production as a means of making money. and serve their communities.

Oklahoma, Alabama and Montana are the latest states to deregulate domestic food production.

oklahoma Homemade Food Freedom Act, enacted on May 10, is one of the most permissive food freedom laws to date. It allows people to sell any homemade food products that are free from meat or seafood without a license, permit or government inspection. Shelf-life and perishable products can be sold direct to consumers, in person or online, and non-perishable items can also be sold in farmers’ markets and even in retail stores.

Oklahoma law also lifts the $ 20,000 sales cap that previously weighed on domestic producers. Companies can now be considered “Home feeding establishments” as long as they have gross annual sales less than $75, 000.

For many farmers, bakers and other small food business owners, the new law removes barriers to competing with large companies and will allow small local businesses to thrive. This is “a critical step in getting hardworking Oklahoma residents to embark on their home catering business,” Thanh Tran, a leader of the Oklahoma Young Farmers Coalition, tell the Institute for Justice (IJ), a libertarian legal organization that helped develop the Oklahoma bill, They can start directly with their own resources and not have to spend tens of thousands of dollars “each year to operate a commercial kitchen.

A similar invoice was adopted in Alabama on May 6. Like the Oklahoma bill, it expands the foods home chefs – also known as country food producers – can sell, removes regulatory barriers, and lifts the sales cap that keeps small producers small.

Melissa Humble testified in favor of the bill before the Alabama Senate health care committee. Humble was a teacher and photographer, but quit working those jobs when the pandemic started because her husband was immunocompromised and it would have put his health at risk. To support his family and pay off debt incurred during the pandemic, Humble started his own home bakery business, HumbleBee Bakes, specializing in French macaroons. “Being able to start a business under the Cottage Act has helped me pay my bills and feel like an active member of society,” she wrote in her testimony.

But Humble ran into Alabama’s $ 20,000 cap on home-cooked food sales. Last December alone, she had to turn down 20 orders, or $ 400 in sales, forcing her to take another job for a living. “If I could earn more income,” she said, “I would have the opportunity to grow my business and hire employees, thus providing jobs for more people.

A 2017 IJ Study of 775 home food producers in 22 states found that a majority of them were, like humble, married women living in rural areas with household incomes below the national average. Selling homemade food gives these women the opportunity to use their skills to participate in the economy on their own terms. Now that the $ 20,000 barrier has been lifted, home bakers in Oklahoma and Alabama are not prevented by regulation from turning their home projects into small businesses.

Meanwhile, Montana Choice of Local Foods Act allows certain categories of home-made food producers, including those who operate small dairies, to sell products to individuals or to “traditional community social events” without “”permit, permit, certification, packaging, labeling, test, sampling, or inspection. “(Cottage food producers will still be required to pay $ 40 for a cottage food license and meet certain labeling requirements.) It also includes a provision extend the legal sale of raw milk by small producers.

Small local farmer Sara Richardson of JLbar farm supported the bill. “For the little ones, they usually can’t cope with the regulatory system put in place to control the big ones,” she says. Reason. “There’s absolutely no way for the little guys to compete with the big guys in the system.”

the National Association for Environmental Health possesses identified 41 invoices linked to the artisanal food industry proposed in 24 states to date during the 2021-2022 legislative session. These include new Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations Laws in California and Utah and Colorado meat deregulation law. Food freedom laws were also recently passed in Arkansas and Minnesota, and bills are under consideration in Illinois, Florida and Washington.

This barrage of bills reducing food regulations appears to be one of the benefits of the devastation the pandemic has wrought on the traditional food and restaurant industry.

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