TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—The Florida Legislature today approved a bill that will make it easier to start and run homemade food businesses, opening the door to new women-owned businesses throughout Sunshine State. House Bill 663, named the “Home Sweet Home Act,” reforms rules on selling shelf-stable homemade food, commonly known as cottage foods. Florida law currently includes outdated requirements that do not exist in most states, and this overdue reform could lead to the creation of new small businesses across the Sunshine State. The Institute for Justice (IJ), which supports cottage-food reform across the U.S., strongly encouraged the Florida Legislature to empower home entrepreneurship by passing the bill.
“Eighty-three percent of cottage-food entrepreneurs are women,” said Florida Office Managing Attorney Justin Pearson. “By modernizing Florida’s cottage-food laws and making them consistent with many other states, this reform will create women-owned businesses across the Sunshine State.”
“Selling cottage foods was my lifeline,” Miami-Dade County resident Lizette Galdames said about the period after her husband suffered a stroke. “Without the extra income, we would have lost our home. Instead, we were able to make it through a tough time. I want everyone else to have the same opportunity.”
“We want to thank the lead sponsors, Representative Salzman and Senator Brodeur, for their work on both chambers’ versions of this important bill,” said Pearson. “We also want to thank the bill’s bipartisan group of supporters.”
Florida currently lags behind many states in providing cottage-food producers the freedom they need to start sustainable home businesses. If signed into law by Governor DeSantis, House Bill 663 would reform cottage-food regulations in four critical ways:
- Allowing foods to be shipped to customers. Since sales are limited to shelf-stable foods, there is no risk in shipping them.
- Clearing away local red tape. Rules would be standardized statewide, eliminating needlessly inconsistent and unnecessary rules such as what percentage of the home can be used or that only a kitchen can be used to prep and package food.
- Allowing cottage-food entrepreneurs to have business partners.
- Raising the $50,000 cap on gross revenue to $250,000. The majority of U.S. states have no cap at all, since not being able to use commercial kitchens or any commercial equipment already limits production.
In 2017, IJ authored the nation’s first comprehensive study of cottage food businesses, which showed that cottage food businesses serve as an important path to entrepreneurship for their owners, especially for women living in rural areas. Even a small amount of extra income from a cottage food business can be helpful to Florida households making it through the COVID-19 recession.