Nebraska’s Cottage Food Law Produces Opportunities

Nebraska’s Cottage Food Law Produces Opportunities

In 2019, the Platte Institute worked with Senator Sue Crawford to pass the Nebraska Cottage Food Law. LB304 created a registration framework allowing in-home producers of shelf-stable foods to sell their products legally beyond farmers’ markets. This opened up the opportunity for year-round sales and delivery–from the kitchen or via mail order or personal delivery.

Producers of cookies, cakes, jams, and other shelf-stable foods had long been able to produce such food for sale at farmers’ markets. They included packaging notifying the purchaser that the food was made in a non-regulated kitchen. Any other sales out of the home were technically forbidden. But let’s be honest–who in a small town hasn’t purchased cakes from the at-home cake baker for a graduation or bridal shower?

The Nebraska Cottage Food Law changed all that. Now, upon completion of an in-person or online course in food handling safety, at-home businesses can register with the state and produce their product for sale legally, year around from their homes.

In December 2019, we provided a list of 67 Nebraska cottage food producers who had registered to run home-based businesses under this law.  Earlier this year, Jim Vokal featured Eli Vedral of Kookaburra Cookies on his podcast.

Nebraska Cottage Food Producers

We recently returned to the Nebraska Cottage Food Producer list to see if people were still registering, how many there were, and whether registration was localized or widespread. What we found was inspiring. Some highlights:

  • In mid-October, the list of producers took up 151 pages on a PDF. As of November 8, that number is up to 154.
  • Over 1000 individuals have registered as cottage food producers in the state.
  • Those 1000 registrants come from 83 of Nebraska’s 93 counties, and the list also includes around ten producers from six other states who have registered with our Department of Agriculture

The cottage food bill doesn’t guarantee grand success. Many of those who have registered will likely continue to be the in-home cake bakers producing goods periodically to fill a need and supplement their income. But it’s also possible that–given the opportunity to start out in a more measured way, in their homes–some of these folks will open brick-and-mortar stores and hire others in their communities.

Ultimately, we want every individual to be able to chase their dreams–big or small–with minimal government barriers. The cottage food bill has shown itself to be a success at meeting those goals for over 1000 people residing in 90% of the counties in our state!

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