Support House Bill 263: An act related to home-based food products! This bill was filled on January 29th, 2018 by Representative Richard Heath. House Bill 263 unanimously passed the House and Senate. On April 2nd, HB 263 was signed by Governor Matt Bevin. You can read the full bill HERE. This law takes effect on July 14, 2018! That means you can make non-potentially hazardous foods from your home kitchen Kentucky!!
Selling homemade foods—like cookies, cakes, and jam— is a great way for entrepreneurs with big dreams but little capital to get started small in their own homes without having to spend thousands of dollars on a commercial kitchen space. Customers also love buying these local foods from members of their community. Nearly every state has embraced cottage food businesses as job creators and revenue generators, but Kentucky has one of the most restrictive cottage food laws in the country.
Kentucky is one of only two states that only allow farmers to sell homemade foods. That means that while a farmer can sell homemade chocolate chip cookies, a homemaker cannot sell the same exact cookies without breaking the law. Kentucky’s current law is keeping families across the state from an opportunity to earn extra income and contribute to our economy.
What Will House Bill 263 Do?
A small change to Kentucky’s law could make a big difference. House Bill 263 makes two simple changes to Kentucky’s existing “Cottage Food” law. These changes are consistent with what is already allowed in most states. This bill is currently supported by a state-wide coalition of home bakers, and the national non-profit organization, the Institute for Justice, which advocates for food freedom.
- First, H263 allows anyone to sell homemade foods, not just farmers.
- Second, it would expand where these foods can be sold. The current law only allows sales at farms, roadside stands, and farmers’ markets. The proposed bill would allow sales anywhere that is directly to a consumer within the state, including out of a home (whether by pickup or delivery)
and online. Wholesales, such as to grocery stores and restaurants, would be prohibited.
- This bill does not change the existing safety protections in place under current law.
- This bill also does not change the foods that can be sold. Under the current law, only non hazardous foods (meaning foods that are shelf-stable and do not require refrigeration) can be sold.
Examples are cookies, syrups, and jam.
What Does Home Baking Mean?
- Home baking is just that: baking goods, such as cookies, cakes and muffins, in a home kitchen. Home kitchens can legally be businesses in the United States, with the exception of Kentucky, New Jersey, & Rhode Island. (Find out about New Jersey Here.)
- Some states like Kentucky have cottage food laws but are restrictive in that they only allow farmers to sell who grow their main ingredient.
How Do We Fix This?
- Voice your support, and contact your local legislators to let them know you would like to see our current cottage food laws changed to allow home baking businesses. Tell them to support House Bill 263!
Why Should I Care?
- Imagine getting to order grandma’s homemade cookies on demand! If allowed to operate, home baking businesses can provide additional income to families and pay taxes. Home bakers also have the flexibility to make small batches of goods and cater to food allergies and dietary restrictions. People who live far from traditional bakeries can buy locally. Plus, home bakers are likely to source locally, buying ingredients and supplies from other small businesses.
What Do We Want To See Changed From The Current Law?
A small change to Kentucky’s law could make a big difference. This proposed bill makes two simple changes to Kentucky’s existing “Cottage Food” law. These changes are consistent with what is already allowed in most states. This proposal is currently supported by a state-wide coalition of home bakers, and the national non-profit organization, the Institute for Justice, which advocates for food freedom.
- First, the proposed bill allows anyone to sell homemade foods, not just farmers.
- Second, it would expand where these foods can be sold. The current law only allows sales at farms, roadside stands, and farmers’ markets. The proposed bill would allow sales anywhere that is directly to a consumer within the state, including out of a home (whether by pickup or delivery) and online. Wholesales, such as to grocery stores and restaurants, would be prohibited.
House Bill 263 makes no changes to the existing safety protections in place under current law.
Currently, Kentucky recognizes two categories of farmers selling “not potentially hazardous”—meaning they are all shelf stable and do not require refrigeration for safety—homemade food.
Home-Based Processors can sell very low risk foods like jams and cookies, and must register with the state.
Home-Based Microprocessors can sell a wider variety of foods, including canned and jarred foods like vegetables and relishes. As canning these foods requires more expertise, the existing law requires microprocessors to register with the state, take a training course, and get their recipes approved. Their sales are capped at $35,000 each year.
House Bill 263 would simply allow anyone, not just farmers, to sell under these two categories.
States that allow residents to start cottage food businesses have seen employment growth, not disease outbreaks. In fact, over the last few years several states have expanded their cottage food laws, making it easier for people to sell more homemade foods in more places. Please help us make these simple changes to Kentucky’s cottage food law and allow our state to join a growing movement!
How Do I Know The Food Is Safe?
- The types of baked goods we want to sell are safe and do not need to be refrigerated, like cookies, cakes, and muffins. The changes we want would allow us to sell these goods as long as our customers know the items were made in a home kitchen. These very same goods can be sold by farmers who grow their main ingredient, so it’s not a question of health and safety. Again, these businesses are legal in 46 states!
Will This Be Bad For Traditional Bakeries?
- Our businesses will be limited by the revenue cap and by the nature of our business model, so there will still be demand for traditional bakeries. We can only fill so many orders from our home kitchens. It’s not the government’s place to restrict competition and that’s what our current law is doing.
What Can I Do To Help?
- Call your legislator.
- Tell your friends.
- If you are connected with an organization that might be interested in this issue, ask them to sign our coalition letter.
- Attend a public rally when the time comes.
- Sign our petition at Change.org