Last week, the lower house of New Jersey’s legislature unanimously passed a “cottage food” bill, which would let people sell baked goods like breads, pies, cakes and cookies prepared in their home kitchens. To sell legally, one would need only a “clearly visible placard” saying the food was prepared at a private home. The bill, A-1244, has no revenue cap for cottage food entrepreneurs. So if it is passed by the State Senate, the Garden State would join the more than 20 other states that don’t arbitrarily limit how much home bakers can earn.
Read More: Mississippi Bans Food Bans
New Jersey is one of just five states that do not yet have cottage food laws. Under the state’s current regime, it’s illegal for people to sell food they make at home. Instead, they must either rent space at a shared commercial kitchen or install a commercial kitchen in their homes, which can be prohibitively expensive.
Yet even in states that allow the sale of cottage foods, the regulations can be so restrictive they trigger litigation. Minnesota only allows home bakers to sell up to $5,000 of baked goods per year—that’s less than $100 per week. Last November, the Institute for Justice sued the state to defend the rights of home bakers like IJ clients Jane Astramecki and Mara Heck (who can be seen in the video below).
Meanwhile, states that have embraced reform have spurred entrepreneurship. One year after California enacted its own cottage food law, Californians created over a thousand local businesses. New Jersey could do the same.
— Nick Sibilla
Nick Sibilla is a writer at the Institute for Justice