J. Justin Wilson
J. Justin Wilson · March 12, 2020

Arlington, Va.—The nation’s best law for homemade food businesses is about to become even better. Today, Gov. Mark Gordon signed HB 84, a bill that will expand the Wyoming Food Freedom Act. Along with 48 other states, Wyoming lets residents sell shelf-stable food made at home, like baked goods, jams, and jellies. But Wyoming Food Freedom Act goes much farther and also allows perishable foods, meaning residents can make and sell almost any homemade food, drink or meal imaginable (except those that contain meat), so long as the seller informs the consumer that the food is homemade and not regulated.

However, Wyoming’s law on shelf-stable treats still lagged behind other states in two important ways. First, it only allowed sales directly to consumers, meaning that a homemade food producer couldn’t even sell fresh bread or cookies to a coffee shop or grocer. To fix this, HB 84 will finally legalize selling shelf-stable homemade foods to retail shops and grocery stores. With this reform, Wyoming will join the 17 states that already allow the sale of homemade foods to retailers.

Second, any purchased homemade food could only be eaten in the consumer’s home. Wyoming law not only made it illegal to eat a homemade piece of pie at a picnic or on the go, it also banned the sale of homemade wedding cakes. HB 84 will repeal this bizarre restriction, which is found on the books in only a handful of other states.

“HB 84 will create more income for farmers, stay-at-home parents, retirees, and anyone else who has talent in the kitchen,” said Rep. Shelly Duncan, the bill’s lead sponsor. “The bill will also allow consumers to buy more fresh, healthy and local food at affordable prices.”

First enacted in 2015 and then expanded in 2017, the Wyoming Food Freedom Act is the most permissive homemade food law in the country. Since the law took effect in 2015, there has not been a single outbreak of foodborne illness from food sold under the law. In addition, the number of farmer’s markets in the state—a proxy used to measure homemade food businesses—has soared by nearly 70% over the past 5 years. Given this success, it’s perhaps unsurprising that HB 84 passed the Wyoming State Legislature almost unanimously.

The food freedom movement is spreading across the country, creating new economic opportunities, especially for women and rural communities. Instead of having to pay tens of thousands of dollars a year to rent a commercial kitchen and comply with burdensome food licensing regulations, people can now turn their home kitchens into business incubators.

“Wyoming’s food freedom law has already created much needed income for hundreds of families across the state and made it easier for people to buy fresh and local food,” said Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Erica Smith, who worked with Rep. Duncan on the bill. “HB 84 is a commonsense change to catch Wyoming up to other states.”