The Full Background &
What about the Cookie Bill?
The Full Background
On May 31, 2017, Judge Duane Jorgenson, Wisconsin District Court in Lafayette County, struck down Wisconsin’s ban on selling home baked goods.
That decision officially went into effect on October 2, 2017, when the judge issued an order specifying that this May 31, 2017 ruling applied to everyone in Wisconsin and not just the three plaintiffs, Lisa Kivirist, Dela Ends and Kriss Marion. An additional document can be viewed here.
This means that as of October 2, 2017, Wisconsin home bakers are now free to legally sell their non-hazardous baked goods directly to customers!
Before the court decision, selling home baked goods was essentially banned. While there was an exemption for those selling home baked goods for a religious, charitable or other non-profit organization (i.e., “bake sales”), all other sales were prohibited. Instead, before a baker could sell even one cookie, they had to pay a fee, get a food license, and rent, buy, or build a commercial grade kitchen that was separate and apart from their home kitchen.
This changed with this court victory. According to the court, it is unconstitutional for the government to impose unreasonable and burdensome restrictions on selling home baked goods. The court decided that as long as home bakers are only selling “not-potentially hazardous” baked goods directly to consumers, they are free to do so without a license or commercial grade kitchen.
For the full story on the lawsuit and the Institute for Justice’s support, click here.
Although it is possible that the state may appeal to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals or the Wisconsin Supreme Court will disagree with the decision and reverse in the next year or so, we encourage all of you to start selling until we hear otherwise. The State has not yet appealed.
What about the Cookie Bill?
Note that, given the Judge’s ruling, we do not need a “law” to enable us to bake. The Wisconsin Legislature has the right to still pass a reasonable cottage food law covering baked goods and we will need to follow that law when it passes.
While versions of the Cookie Bill have passed the Senate, most recently Senate Bill 271 which passed unanimously on June 5, 2017, nothing has still gone to a vote in the Assembly. As the Senate and Assembly are out of session officially until 2019, all versions of the Cookie Bill, including Senate Bill 271, are dead and will need to be reintroduced in the new session in 2019. If that happens, we will have to comply with those rules.
Therefore, it is very important that we all fully understand and operate under the information outlined in the Best Practices for Selling Baked Goods.
As new food entrepreneurs and baked goods business owners, it is each of our individual responsibility to utilize safe and best practices and together we will collaboratively grow this movement. Additionally, you may find yourself needing to help educate others on this current status; please forward this website as needed.
The Wisconsin Farmers Union will be keeping the information on this website as accurate and up to date as possible. As new food entrepreneurs and baked goods business owners, it is each of our individual responsibility to utilize safe and best practices and together we will collaboratively grow this movement. Additionally, you may find yourself needing to help educate others on this current status; please forward this website as needed.
If you are speaking with anyone unclear on the fact that we can now legally sell home-baked goods, feel free to give them a copy of this letter written by Erica Smith, the attorney with the Institute for Justice representing the successful lawsuit lifting the ban on the sale of home baked goods that will hopefully clarify things.