OKLAHOMA CITY—Today, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed the Homemade Food Freedom Act into law. The Oklahoma Legislature unanimously approved the bill, making it the fifth state to embrace “food freedom” by allowing homemade food entrepreneurs to sell a variety of products in new ways without needless red tape. Effective November 1, 2021, homemade or “cottage food” producers can sell any shelf-stable food as well as perishable foods other than meat, poultry and seafood. It also allows the sale of homemade foods online and the shipping of shelf-stable goods.
The Institute for Justice (IJ), the nation’s leading advocate for food freedom, helped craft the bill in response to the need to improve the regulatory framework for Oklahoma food entrepreneurs. Before this law, Oklahoma had one of the most restrictive cottage food laws in the country. Now, it has one of the most empowering ones, which will create new job opportunities and food options throughout Oklahoma.
“There has long been pent-up demand for Oklahomans to be able to buy homemade goods from their neighbors without unnecessary restrictions,” said IJ Legislative Counsel Meagan Forbes. “This law ensures that Oklahoma food entrepreneurs will have the ability to build their businesses and support their families.”
Without the law, Oklahomans would need to spend tens of thousands of dollars per year and obtain a costly commercial food license to sell most goods to their neighbors.
Thanh Tran, a leader with the Oklahoma Young Farmers Coalition, stressed that this law will help young farmers compete and not get crowded out by big businesses. “This law is a crucial step for hardworking Oklahomans to get started with their homemade food business,” said Tran. “They can directly start out of their own resources and not have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to per year on a commercial kitchen.”
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. Even a small amount of extra income from a cottage food business can be helpful to lower-income households struggling during the pandemic economic recovery.
“This law will be especially welcome to Oklahoma families recovering economically from the pandemic,” said IJ Activism Manager Melanie Benit.
IJ has won constitutional challenges to Wisconsin’s ban on the sale of home-baked goods and to Minnesota’s restrictions on the right to sell home-baked and home-canned goods. IJ has also helped pass laws expanding the sale of homemade foods in several states across the country, including in Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, West Virginia, Wyoming and D.C.