New Law Helps Local Cupcake Company Get Started

WSJM

Andrew Green

November 12, 2010

A pair of sisters from Saint Joseph have launched a new cupcake business, and say that a recently passed state law on cottage kitchens has helped them to do so. The state law — introduced by State Representative John Proos — lets makers of baked goods produced in the home sell their items, as long as they’re labeled properly. Previously, such products had to be made in commercial kitchens. Liz Algyre, co-owner of Mimi’s Cupcakes, tells WSJM that made it much easier for her and her sister to get the company running.

Liz told us that the idea for the company all started with their mother’s baking, and things have been going well for them so far.

Mimi’s makes specialized cupcakes that can be bought for parties or other events. They’ve got several original varieties. To name a few — there’s the Willie Wonka, which is a chocolate cupcake covered with chocolate buttercream frosting…and the Cookies and Cream, which is an Oreo chocolate cupcake covered with crushed Oreo buttercream frosting and topped off with an Oreo. You can find out more at mimis-cupcakes.com.

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Gov. Signs Cottage Kitchen Legislation

Cottage kitchens are now legal in Michigan, as Governor Granholm this week signed my cottage kitchen legislation into law.

My legislation to encourage family farm businesses and entrepreneurship in the food and agricultural industries through cottage kitchens is now officially state law.

The House and Senate both overwhelmingly approved this measure to help stifle a government bureaucracy and foster agricultural entrepreneurialism.

When signed into law, venders at roadside stands and farmer’s markets will be able to produce goods in their own homes, but all products will have to be labeled with “Made in a home kitchen that has not been inspected by the Michigan Department of Agriculture.”

This legislation sets a home entrepreneur’s maximum sales at $15,000 per year, and will allow cottage food operations to sell out of their homes, at farmers markets, roadside stands, county fairs and town events.

The agriculture industry has long been a leader for our state, and we must encourage job opportunities in this industry.

This is an important jobs tool, and I am pleased that Lansing lawmakers were able to recognize the clear need for action and work together.

Governor Granholm Signs Bills Promoting Michigan Agriculture

River Country Journal

July 13, 2010

LANSING – Governor Jennifer Granholm Monday (July 12th) signed legislation that promotes Michigan agriculture by encouraging the production and sale of certain foods made by Michigan residents in their home kitchens.

These foods, called cottage food products, don’t require temperature control for safety and include jams, jellies, granola, dried fruit and herbs, cereal, dry mixes, candy and baked goods.  The production or packaging of cottage food products by someone in their home kitchen is defined by the legislation as a cottage food operation.

Regulatory barriers in the state’s food production and distribution laws presently discourage many farmers from organizing cottage food operations.  The legislation signed by the governor today removes these barriers by exempting cottage food operations from the licensing and inspection provisions of the Food Law of 2000 if they have annual gross sales of $15,000 or less.  To ensure food safety, cottage food operations would still be subject to enforcement actions by the Michigan Department of Agriculture.

Cottage food products would have to be pre-packaged and properly labeled prior to sale.  Certain information is required to be on the product label, including ingredients, allergen information as required by federal law, and the name and address of the cottage food operation.

The legislation also specifies that cottage food products can be sold only directly from the cottage food operation to the consumer.  Internet and mail order sales are prohibited, as are sales by consignment or at wholesale.

The bills signed by the governor Monday are House Bill 5837, sponsored by State Representative Pam Byrnes (D-Chelsea), and House Bill 5280, sponsored by State Representative John Proos (R-St. Joseph).

Proos Farmers’ Market Legislation Headed to Governor

River Country Journal

July 1, 2010

Legislation to allow Michigan families to enjoy homemade food from local roadside stands and farmers’ markets is headed to the governor, after it was unanimously approved by the Michigan Senate Thursday (July 1st).

“I’m very pleased this legislation that removes barriers to entrepreneurship and over regulation is on its way to the governor,” said state Rep. John Proos, sponsor of House Bill 5280. “Agriculture continues to be a foundation of our state’s economy, and roadside stands and farmers’ markets are part of this crucial sector in our economy. I encourage the governor to protect these jobs.”  (John Proos audio clip – :25)

Proos noted that there has been an increase in farmers markets’ around our state. Recent counts report nearly 200 new ones opening up every day. The increasing trend is not only a result of people wanting to eat healthy, but also interested in the fresh fruits, vegetables and homemade products.

“I was approached by local producers to pursue this legislation. Upon research, some 30 states have decreased regulation and removed barriers to entry for products to be sold locally. My legislation would do the same,” Proos said.

To legally sell a pie at a farmers’ market in Michigan you must invest up to $30,000 to meet current state regulations. HB 5280 deregulates current Michigan laws and allows venders at roadside stands and farmers’ markets to produce goods in their own homes, by requiring all products to be labeled with “Made in a home kitchen that has not been inspected by the Michigan Department of Agriculture.”

“With the great diversity in agricultural items grown in Michigan these bills encourage opportunities for entrepreneurs to be the next Gerber or Kelloggs,” Proos said. “This legislation would encourage entrepreneurs to enter the food industry and grow the 120 products Michigan currently sells nationally.”

The legislation introduced by Proos sets the maximum sales at $15,000 per year, and will allow cottage food operations to sell at homes, farmers’ markets, roadside stands, county fairs and town events.

Made in a Homemade Kitchen

WTVB

COLDWATER (WTVB) – Enjoying homemade food from local roadside stands and farmers markets around Branch County seems like what could be part of a good recipe for a leisurely summertime drive.

State regulations currently don’t allow for it, but the Michigan House Agriculture Committee this week reviewed bipartisan legislation to permit venders at roadside stands and farmers markets to produce goods in their own homes, but require all products to be labeled with “Made in a home kitchen that has not been inspected by the Michigan Department of Agriculture.”

State Representative John Proos, one of the sponsors of the bills, said there are upwards of 20 states that have enacted similar legislation, including jobs competitors Indiana and Ohio. By not doing anything, Proos said Michigan will fall behind by not taking advantage of one of the most diverse selections of goods in the country.

The Michigan agriculture industry generates $71 billion per year. Backers of the legislation say it removes a lot of the bureaucracy and costs that often prevent small agricultural and food businesses from getting off the ground and bringing their products to market. Many local growers that are involved with farmers markets are small family farms that also boost Michigan tourism, which supports the local economy .Proos says he’s working closely with the Department of Agriculture to improve these bills, as the department is responsible for food safety in Michigan.