Cottage industries to soon have same online advantage

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Nebraska used to go out of its way to make it hard for families to supplement their income by selling food from their homes.

Before Gov. Pete Ricketts signed LB 304 into law, “cottage food” producers could sell low-risk homemade foods like baked goods, jams, popcorn, candy and dried pasta only at farmers markets, Nebraska the only state that imposed such restrictions.

We don’t know about you, but we can enjoy a sticky cinnamon roll or a dollop of chokecherry jam any time of the year, not just Saturdays in the summertime when farmers markets typically take place.

Home-based entrepreneurs were pioneers in online marketing through sites such as eBay or Etsy, where they sold antiques, crafts or collectibles or all types.

While a laudable goal, food safety for the items listed above doesn’t require the strict standards that are appropriate for high-volume commercial producers.

“Forty-nine states allow the sale of cottage foods, but Nebraska was the only state to prohibit sales everywhere except for farmers markets,” said Institute for Justice Attorney Erica Smith, who testified in support of the bill. “These foods are incredibly safe and are a great way for farmers, stay-at-home parents, and anyone else who has talent in the kitchen to make money from home.”

The bill was introduced by Senator Sue Crawford and passed the Legislature on April 29. The Institute for Justice and the Platte Institute both worked with cottage food producers to help pass the bill.

Food safety is still assured through requiring cottage food producers to comply with four basic requirements.

They must (1) register with the Department of Agriculture, (2) take a nationally accredited food safety and handling class, like ServSafe, (3) label their foods as homemade and that they may contain allergens, and (4) comply with any local food safety and handling guidelines.

LB 304 is a common-sense approach to helping Nebraskans support their families while providing safe, nutritious, unique foods to neighbors and customers far and wide.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: