Legislative Testimony for LB764, Cottage Food Operator Law

Legislative Testimony for LB764, Cottage Food Operator Law

Good afternoon Chairwoman Brasch and members of the Agriculture Committee.  My name is Nicole Fox, and I am the Director of Government Relations for the Platte Institute.  Thank you for this opportunity to discuss cottage food law in Nebraska.  I would like to thank Sen. Crawford for introducing this bill.

The Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) defines cottage food products as non-potentially hazardous foods not requiring temperature control for safety such as baked goods, jams and jellies produced at a cottage food operation.  The AFDO defines a cottage food operation as person who produces cottage food products only in the home kitchen of that person's primary domestic residence and only for sale directly to the consumer.

LB 764 amends the Nebraska Pure Food Act to allow individuals to sell foods already authorized for sale at farmers’ markets to customers from their homes.   Allowing producers to make these foods in their homes, rather than in a commercial kitchen, reduces some of the start-up barriers to entry for small-scale food producers by allowing these entrepreneurs to operate small food businesses.

With the increased focus on supporting and growing local economies, cottage food laws need to be broad enough to allow producers to make their operations viable local businesses. 

LB 764 requires that all products be properly labeled and that sales from these items do not exceed $25,000 in a calendar year.

Looking at the national landscape, a publication by the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic reported that 42 states have cottage laws.  Except for Kansas, all of Nebraska’s neighbors allow for cottage foods to be sold.  Nineteen of the 42 states do not impose a limit on the annual sales amount, including our neighbors Missouri, South Dakota and Wyoming.  Of the states that do, sales limits range from $5,000 to $50,000 per year.  Michigan and California provide for a gradual increase in this limit over a period of years.

If states want to facilitate economic growth, the Harvard report recommends that states eliminate or increase sales limits on cottage foods.  While we do agree with a majority of the provisions in LB 764, the Platte Institute would recommend either eliminating or increasing the proposed $25,000 sales limit as a means of establishing cottage food producers as important contributors to the local economy and to allow food producers to maximize their earning potential.

The Platte Institute views LB684 as a win for food entrepreneurs, and it will help grow Nebraska’s economy.  I ask that committee members advance LB784 to general file.

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