Minn. Home Bakers Sue State Over Sales Restrictions

Updated: 07/03/2015 2:07 PM KSTP.com By: Nick Winkler

The Institute for Justice, on behalf of two Minnesota home bakers, has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a state law that restricts where and how much home bakers sell.

Right now home bakers are not allowed to sell goods from their home. Instead, they are only allowed to sell baked goods at farmers markets and community events.

The law also caps a home baker's earnings at $5,000 a year.

The Institute for Justice says the state is violating the constitutional rights of home bakers by placing restrictions on them.

The state Agriculture Department did not comment specifically on the suit. However, a spokesperson did point out the law in question is simply an exclusion from state licensing food code and allows smaller entrepreneurs to avoid having to buy a license.

The discussion is one that many states have had regarding “Cottage Food Laws.” A “Cottage Food Production Operation” means a person uses his or her own kitchen facility to produce food items that are not potentially hazardous, including bakery products, jams, jellies, candy, dry mixes, spices and some sauces.

The laws vary by state. Minnesota has a modified law that allows the sale of items if they’re sold in small amounts at farmers markets and community events. Also in Minnesota, there are no licenses or fees.

The lawsuit is filed in conjunction with the National Food Freedom Initiative, a campaign that also challenges Oregon’s ban on the advertisement of raw milk and the law in Miami Shores, Fla., that bans front-yard vegetable gardens.

To see an interactive map of states that have “Cottage Food Laws,” click here.

To read the Minnesota statute, click here.