Once upon a time, the state of Wisconsin had some of the worst cottage-food laws in the country, forcing home bakers who simply wanted to sell safe products like cookies and cakes to obtain a license and rent expensive commercial-kitchen space.
But in January 2016, the Institute for Justice filed a successful lawsuit on behalf of three Wisconsin bakers seeking to earn a fair and honest living. These women, a Wisconsin trial court agreed, were being arbitrarily prevented from providing for their families, as the evidence clearly showed that the state’s ban on selling home-baked goods had nothing to do with health or safety. It merely sought to protect established interests, such as the Wisconsin Bakers Association and the Wisconsin Grocers Association, from healthy competition.
Even after IJ’s victory in court, however, the State Attorney General’s Office tried to keep enforcing the baking ban against all bakers who weren’t plaintiffs in the case. And that’s when IJ’s activism team stepped in.
Organizing an extensive public-information campaign, IJ sent postcards to home bakers across Wisconsin that the activists then used to contact the Governor, urging him to tell the AG to back down and uphold the new law. On October 2, 2017, the judge clarified that his ruling indeed protected all home bakers. And several months later, in February 2018, a Lafayette Circuit Court judge denied the state’s request to prohibit home bakers from selling more than $5,000 per year.
As a result, Wisconsin home bakers can now feel confident in pursuing their dreams, free from government restrictions that bear no relation to public health.