Minnesota Judge Dismisses Challenge to Cottage Food Law

J. Justin Wilson
J. Justin Wilson · June 11, 2014

St. Paul, Minn.—Today, a judge for the Ramsey County Second Judicial District granted Minnesota’s motion to dismiss a major constitutional challenge to the state’s restrictions on home bakers, which arbitrarily dictate where bakers can sell their goods and cap how much they can sell.

The Institute for Justice (IJ) filed the lawsuit in November 2013 on behalf of Jane Astramecki and Mara Heck, two home-baking entrepreneurs who want to earn a living selling their delicious baked goods. IJ, Jane and Mara plan to appeal the decision to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

“The Minnesota Constitution protects the right to earn a living,” said IJ Attorney Katelynn McBride, the lead counsel in the case. “The District Court’s decision today failed to protect that right but we are confident that the decision will be reversed on appeal.”

Watch a short video on the case

Minnesota bans home bakers from selling home-baked foods like cakes, cookies and breads—foods the state has deemed safe—anywhere other than at a farmers’ market or community event. Worse, the state prohibits home bakers from selling more than $5,000 annually—an average of only $96 per week. Violating these restrictions can lead to fines of up to $7,500 or up to 90 days in jail.

“While this was not the decision we hoped for, we are eager to continue the fight in the Court of Appeals and confident that our right to sell our treats will win out,” said IJ client Jane Astramecki.

Minnesota’s location restriction and sales cap hurt home bakers like Jane and Mara. Jane started her home-baking business, Jane Dough Bakery, after sustaining a serious injury that made work outside the home impractical. Mara—a ribbon winner at the Minnesota State Fair for the past four years—has a day job but would love to supplement her income through baking and eventually turn her baking into a full-time business.

“This decision is far from the end of the road for home bakers. IJ will not stop fighting until all entrepreneurs are free from arbitrary restrictions,” said McBride.

IJ has 60 days to file its appeal.