J. Justin Wilson
J. Justin Wilson · April 2, 2018

Gov. Matt Bevin signed HB 263 on Monday, a bill that will legalize home baking businesses for all residents in Kentucky. Previously, under Kentucky’s “home-based processor” law, only farmers or people who personally grow their own main ingredients could sell cakes, cookies, syrups, jams and other homemade food. Those businesses were also only allowed to sell at farmers’ markets, roadside stands, or on their farms.

But under the new law, everyone in the state, not just farmers, can become home-based processors. Similar laws are already on the books in 47 other states. Additionally, HB 263 will let home-based processors sell directly to consumers, whether the sales are from their homes, through deliveries, at community events, or online, in addition to markets and roadside stands.

Kentucky’s ban harmed entrepreneurs like Jennifer Lopez, who wants to continue her home-based custom cake business, after she moved from Missouri to Paducah. But when she crossed state lines, selling cakes from her previously legal business now risked fines as high as $5,000. Determined to change the law, Jennifer founded Kentucky Home Bakers and worked closely with the Institute for Justice to support HB 263.

“Having a home-baking business will not only allow me to earn extra income for my family’s budget, it will also provide a great opportunity for many other families to start their own small baking businesses,” Jennifer said.  “So many people are excited and ready to fire up their ovens and get to work!”

According to the Kentucky Food Safety Branch, the Bluegrass State currently has 743 home-based processors. In the 15 years of the program’s existence, there has never been a report of a foodborne illness from a home-based processor.

With Gov. Bevin’s signature, Kentucky now joins a growing, nationwide movement. Last month, the Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill to ease restrictions on home bakers, while the North Dakota Department of Health dropped plans to undermine the state’s Food Freedom Act. Additionally, the Institute for Justice has secured victories for home bakers in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and is currently challenging New Jersey’s complete ban on selling homemade goods.

“Kentucky’s new law will expand economic opportunity and would leaven some common-sense into Kentucky’s half-baked home-baking law,” said IJ Assistant Activism Director Brooke Fallon. “If you have a recipe and an oven, you should be able to start a business.”