Legislators hope a change to state law will help grow a cottage food industry: home-baked goods.
Currently, home bakers need access to a state-approved commercial kitchen and a state license if they want to sell their goods to the general public. The law has no shortage of critics, who say selling cakes, cookies, and donuts should not be so bogged down in rules.
State Representative Janis Ringhand of Evansville authored a new bill that she hopes will simplify the requirements.
She says streamlining the process will help bakers earn much needed income: "It's for those home producers—'cottage industries,' many people call them — where you may have a housewife or even a gentleman of the house, who bakes a baked product that is very good and people would like to buy it."
The new legislation, nicknamed "the cookie bill," only requires bakers to register with the Food Safety Division of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection. Labels would have to list all of the product's ingredients. The bill would also cap annual sales at $10,000 a year.
The Wisconsin Farmers Union supports the legislation. Government relations associate Scott Karel says there are farm families that depend on bakery sales.
"What we think is really important is…supporting the rural economy," said Karel. "People who are already at farmers' markets, this is extra income for them."
The cookie bill only applies to baked goods that do not spoil easily, like cakes, cookies, and donuts. Ringhand says six lawmakers support the bill so far.