ARLINGTON, Va.— Yesterday, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection filed an appeal to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals asking it to review a trial court decision allowing home bakers in Wisconsin to sell shelf-stable foods directly to consumers. The government also asked the trial court to stay enforcement of its ruling pending the appeal.
This was the second case for the Institute for Justice (IJ) in which the Lafayette County Circuit Court struck down such a ban. In 2017, a legal challenge from homemade or “cottage” food producers and the Institute for Justice led a Wisconsin court to declare the state’s ban on home-baked food sales unconstitutional. But Wisconsin continued to ban the sale of most homemade foods, like chocolates, candies, granola and roasted coffee beans. This current lawsuit, filed in February 2021, aimed to change that. In December 2022, the court again ruled for the homemade food sellers. Prior to these legal victories, Wisconsin had the most-restrictive cottage food laws in the nation.
“We look forward to continuing to defend the rights of home entrepreneurs,” said IJ Senior Attorney Justin Pearson. “However, we are disgusted that Wisconsin’s state government would continue to waste tax dollars defending a law that its own employees said made no sense. The individual regulators also explained that this law only existed because powerful groups wanted to keep out smaller competition. Yet, perhaps because of that same influence, the government is appealing the court’s decision. Shame on them.”