Final Victory for Wisconsin Home Bakers

Institute for Justice · February 27, 2018

Madison— Home bakers in the Badger State have reason to celebrate after a Lafayette Circuit Court judge denied Wisconsin’s request to prohibit bakers from selling more than $5,000 annually—an average of only $96 per week. Today’s ruling brings Wisconsin in line with most states, which have no sales cap for home bakers. This latest victory comes months after Judge Duane Jorgenson struck down Wisconsin’s ban on selling home-baked goods as unconstitutional. The Institute for Justice and three bakers teamed up in January 2016 to challenge the ban.

“This is great news for farmers, moms, grandmothers and everyone else who has been selling homemade cakes and cookies to support themselves and their families,” exclaimed Erica Smith, an attorney with the Institute for Justice. “After accounting for baking ingredients, supplies and other costs, the cap would have left some bakers with only a few hundred dollars in profit per year.”

A recently released report from the Institute for Justice found that cottage food producers—such as home bakers—value the flexibility, financial support and creative opportunities working at home provides.

Judge Jorgenson’s decision recognized that it is up to the legislature—not the courts or the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection—whether to impose reasonable restrictions on home bakers. Unfortunately, the legislature is currently considering AB 360, which would impose a hardly reasonable $10,000 sales cap on newly liberated home bakers. According to IJ Research Analyst Jennifer McDonald, who authored the report on cottage food producers, “Such a cap is unnecessarily restrictive and arbitrary. Most other states have no cap at all, demonstrating that a sales cap is not necessary for the sale of these inherently safe foods.”

“Running a business out of one’s home is a time-honored tradition, and cottage food businesses provide myriad benefits to producers and consumers alike,” continued McDonald. “Wisconsin can and should take steps to encourage entrepreneurship by letting the court victory stand, not forcing home bakers to comply with an unnecessary sales cap.”