SWMBO grew up in Wisconsin where they would put her in jail for selling a homemade cookie. I’m eating one of her oatmeal cookies right now and am here to tell you that law would have deprived her neighbors from heaven on a plate.
Wisconsin is one of just two states to ban the sale of home-baked goods (New Jersey is the only other). If SWMBO were to sell her brownies or cookies or muffins from her own kitchen to the public there, she could go to jail.
The Wisconsin law requires bakers to buy a license. The license requires a commercial kitchen, health inspections and, of course, fees. Cottage Food laws or regulations generally include some form of kitchen inspection, a zoning permit, a business license, restriction on pets, and more.
“Protecting other businesses from competition is not a legitimate government interest.”
Wisconsin’s commercial bakers claim the ban evens the playing field for the licensed businesses by removing the unfair advantage for home-based cooks. Still, the state allows the sale of other homemade foods such as jams and canned goods, all made on regular stoves, so I’m thinking state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos puts homemade jam on his muffins.
Worthy of note, Wisconsin and New Jersey are not the only states with “Cottage Food Laws.” Many states require some form of kitchen inspection, a zoning permit, a business license, and restrict pets if you home bake cakes, cookies, pies, and breads, make jams and jellies, popcorn or candies, and more.
Vermont banned brownies to turn kids on to kale and gluten-free paleo lemon bars.
New York City‘s public schools allow PTAs to hold fundraisers that include homemade baked goods only “once a month or weekdays after 6 p.m.”
Delicious news: three Wisconsin farm women challenged that state’s law last year. A LaFayette County judge sweetly overturned the law last month after the women’s attorney argued that the state Supreme Court has ruled that “protecting other businesses from competition is not a legitimate government interest.”
In his oral ruling, the judge said that the ban mainly served business interests.
Naturally, the Department of Justice says the state is considering an appeal.