Tallahassee, Fla.—With the Florida House of Representatives’ passage of House Bill 663, Florida moves one step closer to reforming 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 Florida law currently includes outdated requirements that do not exist in most states, and this overdue reform could lead to the creation of new small businesses across the Sunshine State.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 foods reform across the U.S., strongly encourages the Florida Legislature to empower home entrepreneurship by passing the bill. This will happen if the Florida Senate passes the bill’s Senate companion, SB 1294.
“Eighty-three percent of cottage-food entrepreneurs are women,” said Florida Office Managing Attorney Justin Pearson. “This reform will create hundreds, and possibly thousands, of women-owned businesses around the Sunshine State.”
“Selling cottage foods was my lifeline,” Miami-Dade County resident Lizette Galdames said about making ends meet 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 doing a terrific job advocating for this important bill,” said Pearson. “We also want to thank the bill’s large and bipartisan group of supporters, including Speaker Sprowls.”
Florida currently lags behind many other states in providing cottage foods producers the freedom they need to start sustainable home businesses. House Bill 663 and its companion, Senate Bill 1294, would reform cottage foods regulation 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.