Nanny State

'Blatantly Irrational' Ban on Selling Home-Baked Goods in Wisconsin Must Stop

Despite a May ruling declaring the ban unconstitutional, Wisconsin continued to target home bakers.


Institute for Justice

Wisconsin's ban on selling home-baked goods is unconstitutional, with "no real or substantial connection" to consumer protection (and a lot to do with protectionism pushed for by groups like the Wisconsin Bakers Association).

That's what a Wisconsin circuit court ruled in May, anyway. Despite that, the state continued to target small-scale entrepreneurs selling baked goods made in their homes.

According to the state attorney-general's office, Judge Duane Jorgenson's ruling only applied to the three women who had challenged the baked-good rules in court: Dela Ends, Lisa Kivirist, and Kris Marion, all farmers and bakers who wanted the right sell homemade goods directly to consumers. They filed a lawsuit last year with help from the nonprofit Institute for Justice (IJ).

Today, Jorgenson issued an opinion clarifying that no, the ruling was not limited to letting Ends, Kivirist, and Marion peddle home-baked foods, but applied to all entrepreneurs like them in the state.

"This is more than a win for us home-based bakers," said Kivirist, "it's recognition that all small businesses have the right to earn an honest living free from irrational government regulation."

Wisconsin is one of only two places with state-wide rules banning homemade baked-good sales. (The other is New Jersey.) "Before a person could sell even one cookie [legally], they needed to acquire an expensive commercial kitchen and a burdensome commercial license," said Erica Smith, IJ's lead attorney on the case.

Nonprofit groups were permitted to sell homemade baked goods at public events up to 12 days a year, however—a paradox IJ calls "blatantly irrational."

Breaking the regulations could mean a year in jail and a $10,000 fine.

The latest ruling from Judge Jorgenson "is a major step for economic liberty and common sense in Wisconsin," said Smith. "Now, Wisconsin home bakers are free to sell their baked goods out of their home, at community events and at farmers' markets—something people are already doing in almost every other state every day."