BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — New legislation passed by the General Assembly will bring more jams, jellies, pickles, baked goods and artisan products to Illinois. The Home-to-Market Act SB2007, sponsored by Rep. Will Guzzardi and Sen. Dave Koehler, creates smart new regulations for cottage food operations, enabling them to reach new customers, while giving the public greater access to unique Illinois products.
“Cottage food production is a vital market for our farms to add value to the farm, extend their seasons, and reduce farm waste,” said Raghela Scavuzzo, director of food systems development, Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB). “This rule allows farms to safely produce foods from their homes while testing these new market opportunities.
“The new amendment to the law allows for more market avenues for farmers, including online sales of their cottage food products, while creating fair food safety protocols around the state. We believe these changes reduce barriers to markets and inconsistent regulation that was present in the previous legislation. This will make diversification on the farm easier, reduce costs to product development and increase farm profitability.”
Cottage food laws exist in varying degrees in every state of the nation to provide farms and food entrepreneurs an avenue to produce and sell certain low-risk products from a home kitchen without the need for a costly commercial kitchen or storefront.
In Illinois, the current law limits sales of cottage foods to seasonal farmers markets, with few exceptions. Illinois is one of just three states in the nation with this restriction, which prevents cottage food operations from reaching new customers and growing their businesses.
The Home-to-Market Act addresses this issue by expanding sales avenues for cottage food producers to include direct-to-customer sales avenues such as fairs and festivals, home sales, pick-up, delivery and shipping. Not included are sales to retailers or distributors.
“The Illinois Farm Bureau appreciates that this bill expands market opportunities for small farmers and food producers to sell their goods beyond just their farm stands and farmers’ market,” said Danielle Anderson, associate director of state legislation, IFB. “This bill was further strengthened by including Illinois-grown labeling as an incentive to use homegrown Illinois products and increase Illinois farmers’ economic dollars within the state. We look forward to hearing of the increasing success of our state’s entrepreneurial cottage food producers.”
The bill was championed by Illinois Stewardship Alliance, the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship, the Illinois Environmental Council, the Chicago Food Policy Action Coalition and Illinois Farm Bureau and was supported by a broad stakeholder group of cottage food producers and food justice organizations.
“The Act presents an important opportunity to support marginalized and low-income communities that are oftentimes unable to access the necessary assets and finances required to start a business,” says Kevin Erickson, manager of the urban ag program at Loyola University, who helped negotiate and support the bill. Kevin notes that his work in the city opened his eyes to the inequities facing urban farmers, which drew him to policy work. “As long as food can be produced safely, and we feel very confident that this bill outlines a very safe process that can be done successfully at home, the Home-to-Market Act will allow new businesses to start and existing ones to grow and flourish.”
The bill’s passage came at a time when cottage food producers needed it most, after coming off an especially difficult year due to Covid 19.
In addition to expanding sales avenues, the Home-to-Market Act:
- Adds a handful of new food safety provisions negotiated with public health stakeholders to ensure public safety, including a written food safety plan for products like pickles and kimchi
- Approves buttercream icing for sale under cottage food law, freeing home-bakers to make cakes, cupcakes, and other high-demand baked goods that customers desire.
- Directs IDPH to work with a stakeholder group of public health associations and non-profit organizations to issue guidance on a standardized registration form, inspection form, and a home-self certification checklist that outlines procedures and equipment for a home-kitchen.
The Home-to-Market Act passed the House and Senate unanimously and now awaits the Governor’s signature. Once signed the bill will go into effect on January 1, 2022.
For more information about the bill and how to support this effort, visit: www.ilstewards.org/hometomarket.
— Illinois Farm Bureau
For more articles out of Illinois, click here.