That’s right. Cookies. In New Jersey, it is illegal to sell baked goods made in your home kitchen. That’s because the state has yet to pass a “cottage food” law that permits small, home-based entrepreneurs to prepare and sell baked goods that are perfectly safe, such as cookies, muffins and breads.
This penalizes the many valid reasons for wanting to work from home—and especially punishes stay-at-home moms, the physically disabled, and those short on start-up capital. Worse yet, economic protectionism is often baked into bans on cottage foods. For years, commercial food producers like the Wisconsin Bakers Association have lobbied in their state against a “Cookie Bill”—which would allow the limited sale of home baked goods—in order to protect themselves from competition.
There’s good news and bad news for the Garden State’s home bakers.
The good news is a bill currently working its way through the state legislature would legalize the sale of home-baked goods.
The bad news is this isn’t the first time we’ve been here. Each session, the same bill passes the New Jersey Assembly, often unanimously, yet usually stalls in the same Senate committee. Committee chairmen often exercise complete control over which bills get heard, and therefore passed. In this case, state Sen. Joseph Vitale routinely blocks the home bakers’ bill. For food freedom to come to New Jersey, Senator Vitale will have to be persuaded of the truth that home-baked goods are not a public health risk, but a job creator.
Take Action: Contact Senator Vitale’s office today and tell them you support the passage of the home baking bill.
The Goal: Cottage Food Freedom Nationwide
New Jersey is nearly unique in this regard. Most other states have given entrepreneurs a legal space within which to test, refine and grow a market for their homemade foods before diving into the wider commercial market. Indeed, New Jersey is just one of two states in the union that so drastically restricts its home bakers’ economic liberty—and IJ is currently suing the other one, Wisconsin. (Last year, another IJ lawsuit removed Minnesota from the clutch of holdout states.)
And as in New Jersey’s stalled reforms, a single legislator has created the bottleneck in Wisconsin. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who owns his own commercial food business, has refused to allow the Assembly to vote on a Cookie Bill, despite bipartisan support.
The current impasse boils down to just two state lawmakers standing in the way of nationwide food freedom. Together, we can make this a cottage-food-friendly country by the end of 2016.