J. Justin Wilson
J. Justin Wilson · March 22, 2018

On Wednesday, the Kentucky Senate voted unanimously to pass HB 263, which would legalize home baking businesses for everyone in the state. Right now, under Kentucky’s “home-based processor” law, only farmers or people who personally grow their own main ingredients can sell cakes, cookies, syrups, jams and other homemade food. The state further limits these businesses by only allowing home bakers to sell at farmers’ markets, roadside stands, or on their farms.

Kentucky’s ban harms 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.

Under the bill, everyone in the state, not just farmers, could become home-based processors. Additionally, HB 263 would 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.

“Having a home baking business will not only allow me earn extra income for my family’s budget, but 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!”

If Gov. Matt Bevin signs the bill, Kentucky will join the 47 states that currently let any resident (farmer or not) sell food made at home. Kentucky is also poised to join a growing, nationwide movement. Earlier this week, 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.

“Passing this bill would 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.”