Wisconsin home bakeries are open for business — and it appears likely it’ll be for good.
The State of Wisconsin is not appealing a judge’s ruling that says Wisconsinites can sell their home-baked goods without getting a food license or using a commercial kitchen.
That leaves home bakers in Wisconsin free to sell as many cupcakes, pies and loaves of bread as their customers will buy (within some parameters).
“The reason that we won was because the judge found that the ban (on selling home-baked goods) was completely arbitrary, it had nothing to do with safety and everything to do with just protecting commercial bakers from competition,” said Erica Smith, who represented the three women who filed the lawsuit — Lisa Kivirist, Kriss Marion and Dela Ends.
Competition’s a comin’.
Less than 24 hours after Kivirist asked people on the Cottage Food Law Facebook page to post links to their new, home-baked goods businesses, 51 business owners already had posted links to their sites.
Among the comments: “So happy this passed! I have only been baking for friends and family”; “Not doing too much right now (just friends and family)…but it’s nice finally doing it legally. (Wink)” “Good luck home bakers! It’s so nice to be able to do this now!”
The newfound freedom is the culmination of a years-long effort.
Home bakers in Wisconsin have long been essentially banned from selling their products because state law required that anyone wanting to sell baked goods had to get a food license and only make their sale items in a commercial kitchen.
Those restrictions priced many home-bakers out of the market.
Several times, the state Senate has passed bills allowing for the sale of home-baked goods, but capping the amount of sales. The most recent bill sets a cap at $25,000 each year.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, however, won’t bring the bill up for a vote in that chamber.
So Kivirist, Marion and Ends filed a lawsuit instead, arguing that the ban was unconstitutional.
Last May, Judge Duane Jorgenson agreed.
But even then, the state determined that the ruling only allowed the three plaintiffs in the case to sell their home-baked goods.
It wasn’t until last month, when Jorgenson specifically clarified that his ruling applied to everyone, that Wisconsin bakers could truly go about their business. The deadline for the state to appeal was Nov. 13.
“I’m, like, making granola like a mad woman,” said Naomi Veldt Dvorachek, who sells a specialty granola she developed after she and her husband switched to eating a Paleo diet.
Just in announcing on her Facebook page that she could start selling granola through Naomi’s Outrageously Delicious Kitchen, Veldt Dvorachek said she’s already done more than $1,500 worth of business.
New mom Amanda Rudd previously ran a successful business, Amanda Cupcake.
But she said it grew too much, too fast, and she was working too much.
Now, she’s hoping to focus on organizing baking parties, where she goes to people’s homes and teaches their children how to bake — running the business from her own home, with her own daughter by her side.
“I still want to have my business,” Rudd said. “So this (ruling) allows me to still go for what I’m passionate about … but also be a mom, and still connect with my customer base that misses me and misses what I created for them.”
There are still restrictions on the sale of home-baked products.
Among the most significant:
— Only “non-potentially hazardous” baked goods (products that can be left out of the refrigerator) can be sold
— Only face-to-face sales are allowed
— Other items such as chocolates and candy are still banned.
And the Legislature may approve changes.
Senate bill 271, aka the “cookie bill,” allows home bakers to sell their products without a license, and caps sales at $25,000 a year for an unlicensed baker. That awaits Assembly approval.
Vos has shopped around his own bill, aka the “Bakery Freedom Act”, which would eliminate licensing requirements for Wisconsin bakeries.
Regardless, though, of what happens with those bills, the judge’s ruling outlawing a ban stands.
Wisconsin home bakers can get to baking. And Wisconsinites can get to eating.
“It’s still kind of hard to believe, and I still keep thinking, ‘Well, it is Wisconsin, and they could find a way to overturn it,” Veldt Dvorachek said. “There’s still that little skeptic in me.”
But she’s grateful for the women who filed the lawsuit: “They did the hard work for a lot of us.”
Questions or comments about this article? Contact Kirsten Adshead at firstname.lastname@example.org.