Florida homemade-food entrepreneurs call for less-restrictive regulations


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Florida’s relatively restrictive laws on home bakers and other food makers should be loosened, including allowing individuals to earn more money from sales, advocacy groups said.

Laws governing the sale of home-baked and other goods vary widely from state to state, and Florida has some restrictions, including the relatively low amount of money people are allowed to earn and a ban on selling online or any other way except face-to-face with the consumer, or direct to a venue.

Chris Hudson, Florida director of the Americans For Prosperity (AFP) said his organization is working to cut the red tape in Florida.

“One of the goals of elected officials — and frankly what so many politicians campaign on — is to fight for policy that will make earning success more attainable,” Hudson told Florida Business Daily.

Florida introduced two bills in 2016 that aimed to increase the sales maximum, but both of them died early in the legislative session.

One of those, SB 1228, introduced by state Sen. Nancy Detert (R-Sarasota), proposed doubling the amount of gross sales allowed, to $30,000. Although favored by two Senate committees, it died in the Fiscal Policy Committee.

“We spoke out in favor of Senator Detert’s Cottage Food Operations bill because it would have expanded the opportunity of entrepreneurs to succeed by clearing hurdles that would have otherwise cut them off at the starting gate,” Hudson said.

“We need to continue to work to reduce red tape so that all aspiring entrepreneurs will have the ability to compete in our vibrant economy.”

Hudson urged state legislators in New Jersey, who are “currently punishing entrepreneurs,” to lift the “ban on opportunity.”

“Get out of the way from individuals pursuing their goal and passions,” Hudson said.

In an op-ed piece published in the Wall Street Journal, the AFP’s state director, Erica Jedynak, and Heather Russinko, who wants to sell her home-baked goods, argued for New Jersey to lift its outright ban on the sale of homemade baked goods. 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 authors 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 representatives do support lifting the ban, but legislation has foundered in the New Jersey Senate.

Florida’s cottage food laws are somewhat restrictive, according to Forrager.com, a website that supports and advocates for freer and more flexible state laws on home baking.

“Fortunately, it’s very easy for a producer to start selling: no license, inspection or training from the ag department is required,” the website said. “Unfortunately, the producer is restricted to only $15,000 of sales per year, and they may only sell directly to consumers — no wholesale, mail order or Internet sales are allowed.”

Home bakers and other food makers in Florida can deliver products “directly to the consumer or to a specific event venue.”

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