Advocates call for easing state regulations against selling homemade foods

Any bureaucratic regulations that throw up barriers to home-cooking entrepreneurs are generally opposed by free-market advocates in Illinois.But there are no major issues brewing in the state on the home-baking front, according to the local chapter of Americans For Prosperity (AFP).

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Any bureaucratic regulations that throw up barriers to home-cooking entrepreneurs are generally opposed by free-market advocates in Illinois.

But there are no major issues brewing in the state on the home-baking front, according to the local chapter of Americans For Prosperity (AFP).

Advocates have declared Illinois’ laws on the sale of homemade food products to be among the more restrictive in the country, particularly the low threshold for sales outside of farmers markets.

“We are certainly interested in removing barriers to opportunities that should exist for entrepreneurs,” Andrew Nelms. AFP’s deputy state director, said.

“That applies to occupational licensing," Nelms said. "We are against bureaucratic regulations that stand in the way of people achieving their goals, against barriers and red tape.”

lllinois has two laws in place that allow for the sale of homemade food, according to Forrager.com, an advocacy and information service that supports the loosening of restrictions on homemade foods.

A newer law allows home kitchen operations to be used for selling baked goods outside of farmers markets.

The older law lets you sell cottage foods at a farmers market, where you can sell up to $36,000 worth of products per year.

Illinois passed an amendment to the previous law, the so-called Cupcake Law, introduced after a young girl was shut down for baking cookies for charity, but individual counties must create an ordinance to implement the law locally.

Many health departments have little or no incentive to take the effort to make this law available in their jurisdictions, so many people cannot use it, according to Forrager.com.

Under the law, all non-perishable baked goods can be made at home and sold directly to customers, either from home or elsewhere. Sales are limited to $1,000 per month, but no registration or permit from the health department is required, though other local permits may apply.

Laws governing the sale of home-made goods vary from state to state, from light  restrictions to outright bans in New Jersey and Wisconsin.

In an op-ed piece published in the Wall Street Journal, Americans For Prosperity’s state director, Erica Jedynak, and Heather Russinko, who wants to sell her home-baked goods, argued for New Jersey to lift its ban, under which bakers can work legally only in industrial kitchens, which cost upward of $15,000.

Russinko, to help cover her bills, wants to make some extra money and start a college fund for her son.

That’s when she learned about the ban. The duo said they “have talked to hundreds of New Jerseyans who want to supplement their income by selling a batch of grandma’s famous cookies.”

Many lawmakers support lifting the ban, but legislation has foundered in the New Jersey Senate, largely because of the opposition of Sen. Joseph Vitale, chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee, the duo said in their op-ed.

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