Nanny State

States Move to Deregulate Homemade Food in 2015

Lawmakers target overregulation of small-scale milk, meat, and "cottage food" producers


Wyoming Food Freedom

As 2015 legislatures swing back into action, several states are considering decreasing regulation of small-scale food producers, making it easier for residents to buy and sell homemade, farm-fresh products. Bills making their way through Connecticut, Virginia, and Wyoming statehouses would release "cottage foods" and products like raw milk from rules currently prohibiting direct kitchen-to-consumer sales. 

"Cottage foods" are homemade items, such as baked goods and jams, deemed not especially hazardous from a food-safety perspective. The Connecticut General Assembly is considering a bill to legalize cottage food sales. "Under existing rules, specialty food companies must use licensed commercial kitchens, except in cases where food is sold to raise money for charitable causes, such as school bake sales," notes the Stamford Advocate.

Connecticut is now one of only eight states that almost exclusively prohibits cottage food sales. The others include Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and West Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia. 

A Virginia resolution would amend the state constitution to protect consumers' "right to acquire farm-produced food." If passed, farms could sell products such as unpasteurized milk and uninspected meat directly to consumers. Another proposal, the Virginia Food Freedom Act (House Bill 1290), would exempt home-prepared food from certain state regulations, including health-department inspections of kitchens, so long as products are sold directly to consumers and bear a label stating "NOT FOR RESALE — PROCESSED AND PREPARED WITHOUT STATE INSPECTION." 

And in Wyoming, freshman Rep. Tyler Lindholm (R-Sundance) recently reintroduced the Wyoming Food Freedom Act, a bill to "allow for the sale and consumption of homemade foods" that has failed in several previous legislative sessions. The Food Freedom Act would stipulate that "no licensure, permitting, certification, inspection, packaging or labeling" requirements would be allowed for any of the foods or products covered under the act—including cottage foods and meat from "custom meat processors"—so long as they are sold directly to consumers. 

"We've created a situation in where some foods are almost a black market," Lindholm told Wyoming Public Media. "So what the Wyoming food freedom act would do is to take food off the black market and I think that's important and I think that's a huge part of agriculture production, and part of individual liberty."

Lindholm's bill states that "any informed end consumer purchasing products under the Wyoming Food Freedom Act assumes the inherent risks in the purchase, use or ingestion of the food or food products purchased, whether those risks are known or unknown, and is legally responsible for any and all damage, injury or death to himself or other persons or property that results from the inherent risks of purchasing or ingesting food or food products". 

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  1. State governments shirking their responsibility to protect me from the decisions I make? VOTE THEM OUT.

  2. Fuckin Idaho? Why?

    1. It is not enforced anywhere that I know of in Idaho. Open farmers markets are selling many cottage foods.

  3. I had a meeting with my contractor this morning working out some construction details.

    Afterwords, I told my wife, “I JUST WANT TO MAKE BEER AND SELL IT!”

    She rolled her eyes at me, which I understood, but that its such a process to get up and running is driving me crazy.

    1. There was a story in the local paper recently about a couple guys who are turning their home brewing hobby into a business. They’ve got a garage and some shiny stainless equipment. They plan to get started by selling the stuff locally.

      I’m wouldn’t be surprised if someone in the government read that story and decided to put the screws to them. That’s actually happened with some of these “reality” shows. I recall some guy was harvesting sunken logs and got shut down by some government asshole for not having the proper permits and licenses.

      1. Always go incognito. It is better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

        1. Unless they fine you a hundred grand after confiscating everything you own.

        2. I know a guy who thought that. Now his wife has to shut down her business, tear down the structure, and they have to move. All because stuff wasn’t “to code” and against zoning laws. Basically they had a building in their backyard where they groomed and boarded dogs. They’ll be able to do it, but they’ll have to be shut down for months, losing money. I’m not even mentioning the fines.

      2. I’ve always wondered how the show Moonshiners has lasted more than one season precisely for that reason.

        1. Probably because they’re not making moonshine. It’s a dramatization.

          1. Pop-tarts bitten into an L shape aren’t guns, either – but they will kick you out of school for brandishing a scary-looking Pop-tart just the same.

            I’m pretty sure you can get busted for selling an undercover cop a bag of oregano you claim is a bag of marijuana, too.


        Larry Raedel is the chief enforcement officer for Washington’s Department of Natural Resources.

        Larry Raedel: “We basically said we don’t allow that practice to happen. Then come to find out later, he went off on his own and did it without the permission of DNR.”

        Raedel started an investigation of Jimmy Smith’s company after seeing them in action on national TV. The Grays Harbor County prosecutor is currently weighing a charge of theft of state timber. Meanwhile, underwater logger Ross Bennett also faces a felony theft charge for plucking logs from the lower Columbia River.

        Ross Bennett: “I said what are you busting me for? What did I steal and who owned it? These logs come all the way from Canada. They can’t just say a log is arbitrarily theirs.”

        Larry Raedel: “It boils down really to habitat. They don’t pose a threat to property owners. They’re down there for a reason to provide habitat for fish and those types of wildlife creatures that are down there.”

        So is it felony theft or is it destruction of a fish habitat? And will the fish testify at the hearing?

        1. WTF? The logs haven’t been down there forever. It’s not like they got there naturally either.

        2. How are those logs not abandoned property?

    2. There is a guy here (in Maryland, no less) who rents one of those garages in an industrial park and basically homebrews beer in there, bottles it and sells it. It’s terrible. His “facility” is completely unsanitary, but somehow he sells his bottles in a few stores and even in a couple of bars. I can’t imagine what hoops he jumped through to sell his shitty sour beer, though. Here’s the website:

      1. Well, Maryland did elect O’Malley repeatedly, so there’s really no sense in expecting those cunts to have any kind of sense or taste.

  4. In related news, Arizona will be considering whether to allow microbreweries to sell their own beer.

    1. In unrelated news, KY isnt considering it at all.

      1. Although there is an ABC cleanup bill in the works.

        I guess I should check to see what all is in it.

        1. Only an ABC cleanup, and not abolishing the thing?

    2. Florida already decided this one last year. It was not a good decision.

  5. But several interest groups ? including the Virginia Agribusiness Council, the Virginia Farm Bureau, and the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association ? as well as Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s administration spoke out against the measure.

    I don’t see this one making it out of committee. Too much control at stake.

  6. Idaho may legally prohibit cottage foods, but cottage foods are for sale everywhere, at least in the panhandle. Farmers’ markets that sell homemade everything. Jams, baked goods, cheeses, wild game jerkies, even home grown slaughtered meat.

    ETA: After a quick google I found this:

    “Although Idaho does not have a cottage food law, individuals have reported that they are allowed to sell homemade food without any problem at farmers markets in some areas of the state. You should check with your ag department to see if they allow homemade food sales in your area.”

    1. Interesting that they suggest you check to see if it’s allowed by law rather than if it’s prohibitted by law. If the law doesn’t specifically say you are allowed to do something, are you just supposed to stand there and do nothing until your master gives you permisssion?

  7. I grew up in CT down the road from an orchard that made its own unpasteurized cider with their own blend of apples. This cider was the shit; the best cider I’ve ever had. You could let it go hard, it was great mulled, just fantastic. Then years ago they implemented some of these bullshit food rules, and that was it. They couldn’t make the cider any more, something that was beloved by tons of people and that no one ever got sick from. The owners sold the orchard soon after, and I’ll never have that cider again. That cider is like the love that got away. Nothing can ever equal it, so all other cider is shit to me.

    I’m a little obsessed about that cider.

    1. /pours out a 40 of cider

    2. We used to be able to get our fish smoked at the ranch we go to every year.

      Then, several years ago, the state shut that down.

      As a reaction, I believe, to the fact that not one single person had ever gotten sick.

    3. If you liked it that much, why didn’t you find out what apples they used & make it yourself?

  8. Why are Idaho and Wyoming on that list? I thought those westerners were free market wahoos.

    1. Oh man that’s a good one.

  9. Great. More potential markets for my special jizz sauce.

  10. If passed, farms could sell products such as unpasteurized milk and uninspected meat directly to consumers.

    How did we get to the point that producers can’t sell directly to consumers?

    1. Distribution cartels got their friends in government to force producers to sell to the cartel if they wanted to get goods to market.
      This way the politicians can claim they’re protecting the people by adding a layer of quality control while their cartel buddies have a captive audience.

  11. “Under existing rules, specialty food companies must use licensed commercial kitchens, except in cases where food is sold to raise money for charitable causes, such as school bake sales,”

    It’s not OK to poison people with contaminants from your filthy kitchen unless it’s for charity. Fuck those charity jerks.

  12. Just started making homemade sausage this year. It’s fun and it’s delicious. Thinking about selling it at fairs and festivals this summer, but I have no idea where to begin concerning regulations.

  13. no idea where to begin concerning regulations.

    Tor and dark markets?

  14. Cottage foods are banned in Oklahoma?

    Let’s see, I’ve seen homemade cookies, brownies, and cinnamon rolls for sell in convenience stores, jams and sauces in farmer’s markets, and all sorts of homemade foods at roadside stands.

    I guess it’s just one of those laws that only gets enforced occasionally?

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