Article originally appears on the Farmers Market Coalition website. To read the complete article, visit the FMC website.
States advocate for legislation and regulation to support home-based micro-processing
By Drew Love, FMC Research & Education Intern
When the Food Safety Modernization Act passed in 2010, it established an important precedent by allowing smaller, direct-marketing farms to be exempt from many of the new federal requirements, provided that they could prove compliance with applicable state and local regulations. Now, a wave of legislative and regulatory activity has been sweeping across the country, with states attempting to create more explicit rules governing the sale of food at farmers markets and other direct-to-consumer outlets. Some of these laws, generally referred to as “Cottage Food,” or Home-based Food Processor bills, allow small-scale food producers to make low risk food products in their own kitchens, and then sell their products directly to consumers at venues like farmers markets. In 2011 alone, Arizona, Florida, New Jersey, South Dakota, Washington, and Pennsylvania have introduced similar legislation. Maryland and Oklahoma are in the process of re-introducing cottage food laws after seeing legislation die in committee in 2010.
It seems like a basic idea, doesn’t it? But reshaping cottage food regulation has a dramatic impact on the viability of small scale food producers. Without cottage food regulation, these same bakers, cupcake chefs and artisan jam producers would have to make their food in a certified commercial kitchen. Commercial kitchen rentals, as it turns out, are often prohibitively expensive for an upstart business. Even if small businesses do have the income stream to rent a kitchen, it still takes a significant bite out of their profit margin.
So how do these cottage food laws work? . . . .
To continue reading, please visit the article on the FMC website.