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Overreaching Regulators Try to Can Food Freedom

IJ has worked with state legislators across the nation to expand the sale of foods made in home kitchens, helping pass nine bills in eight states and the District of Columbia in recent years. These lawmakers recognize that homemade food sales are low risk, give consumers greater choice, and expand economic opportunity.

Now, regulators in two Great Plains states are trying to do an end run around the legislatures—and IJ is fighting back with two new cases.

When North Dakota passed its Cottage Foods Act in 2017, legislators intended it to be one of the strongest in the country, legalizing the sale of nearly all homemade foods. Although there were no reported illnesses from the new law, the North Dakota Department of Health issued new regulations late last year that would arbitrarily allow only a few types of foods to be sold. The new regulations issued by bureaucrats blatantly violate state law.

In Nebraska, IJ successfully advocated for a cottage food law in 2019 that greatly expanded opportunities for home bakers. But that didn’t stop a health board in Lincoln from drafting—and persuading the City Council to adopt—new rules that subject home bakers to many of the same regulations the Legislature exempted them from, including an intrusive inspection regime.

So IJ has teamed up with home cooks in both states to challenge these illegal restrictions. With these two cases, IJ is sending a message to overreaching regulators nationwide: When the state legislature expands food freedom, you cannot stand in the way.

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