CHICAGO—Late Friday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed SB 2007, the Home-to-Market Act, legislation which will allow home bakers and farmers in Illinois to sell their foods more easily. The bill sweeps away a patchwork of regulations that made it difficult for food entrepreneurs to sell directly to their customers and that severely limited how much they could sell each month. The new law brings Illinois more into line with other states across the country, which in recent years have removed restrictions on homemade products, also known as cottage foods.
The Institute for Justice (IJ) Clinic on Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago Law School helped organize home bakers and farmers in Chicago and across Illinois to support the legislation. The city of Chicago has been especially difficult for cottage food producers, limiting sales only to farmers’ markets, many of which were shutdown last year due to the pandemic.
“Home bakers and farmers in Illinois will now have the opportunity to support themselves with their home businesses,” said Beth Kregor, the director of the IJ Clinic. “We are glad to see Illinois recognize that cottage foods don’t pose a threat to health and safety and instead represent a real opportunity for entrepreneurs to step into the food industry. This new law will help many in our state improve their lives by sharing their delicious creations with their communities.”
The Home-to-Market Act will go into effect on January 1, 2022, and will free cottage food producers to:
- Sell beyond farmers’ markets including through delivery, pick-up, online sales, fairs and other public events, and other direct-to-consumer sales avenues.
- Sell their products across the state without a $1,000 monthly sales cap.
- Use buttercream icing on cakes, cupcakes and other in-demand baked goods.
Karla Armour from La Matriz Bakery in Chicago is a home baker who struggled to afford access to a commercial kitchen. She said, “This is what a truly level playing field looks like. It’s about being able to work in a comfortable space and grow my business at a comfortable pace. No more being shut out by exorbitant fees for licenses and kitchen rentals.”
Shelli Eng, owner of The Bread Lady, has long worked toward more freedom for cottage food producers in Whiteside County, northeast of the Quad Cities. She said, “The new cottage food bill is a game changer in Whiteside County and all across rural Illinois. For the cottage bakers here, fairness and opportunity will be restored. We fought long and hard. We stayed true to our mission. Now Illinoisans will be rewarded with wholesome, homemade food choices.”
The Institute for Justice, through its nationwide Food Freedom Initiative, seeks to reform and challenge laws that interfere with the ability of people to make, buy, sell, eat, grow or advertise different foods. 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, who are often lower-income women living in rural areas. Even a small amount of extra income from a cottage food business can be helpful to lower-income households struggling during the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.