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.

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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.

Choosing Jobs Over Bureaucracy

As chair of the Jobs Task Force, one of the main concerns I heard from businesses across the state was state government over regulation.

As a representative of Southwest Michigan, I see businesses leave our state all the time — not to go to China or India, but to go to Indiana and Illinois.

I recently introduced legislation that addresses this growing concern. The legislation was a direct recommendation from the findings of the Job Task Force.

House Bill 6278 forces the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Environment to act on any business request within six months of the application.

To promote job creation in our state, we must create an environment conducive to job creation. This legislation requires the Michigan DNRE to do their job more efficiently and effectively, and prevents a state department from dragging its feet at the expense of new jobs.

A six-month time frame isn’t too short for this department to do their due diligence in protecting the environment. A business shouldn’t have to wait more than six months to create jobs for Michigan families, especially when they can go to a neighboring state and do businesses much quicker.

Michigan families cannot wait for jobs that could be available now.

Farmers’ Market Legislation Passes the House

June 15, 2010

Bipartisan legislation to allow Michigan families to enjoy homemade food from local roadside stands and farmers’ markets is headed to the state Senate, after it was unanimously approved by the Michigan House today.

State Rep. John Proos introduced House Bill 5280 to deregulate current Michigan laws and allow vendors 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.”

“Farmers’ markets account for millions of dollars in industry each year,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “There are over 150 farmers’ markets in Michigan. This legislation is a way of promoting
and protecting a local agriculture industry in our state – from the state. Every job matters, not only to our families, but to the state’s economic turnaround. We cannot allow government to stand in the way of job opportunities, and this legislation encourages entrepreneurship.”

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.

The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Legislation Could Lessen Restrictions for Roadside Stand Owners

By KATIE JOHNSON
Niles Daily Star

June 15, 2010

New Michigan legislation may make it easier for roadside stands, farmers’ markets and small producers to grow their businesses.

Rep. John Proos, R-St. Joseph has sponsored House Bill 5280 to lessen Michigan Department of Agriculture restrictions for food production.

The bipartisan legislation, which was approved unanimously by the House of Representatives Tuesday, would not require food be made in MDA-certified kitchens if businesses generates less than $15,000 per year.

“We’ve seen a real barrier to entry to these small businesses,” Proos said Monday. “A lot of those farmer’s markets and the producers coordinate with local bakers and cooks and chefs and so forth to produce various products that showcase the produce that is grown in the region. Many of those are small producers. Small producers cannot sometimes legally use the produce without making it in certified kitchens – a minimum $15,000, depending on retrofitting, to meet the requirements.”

The legislation – modeled after states that have passed the same or similar legislation – does call for safety measures, like labels including lists of ingredients that also fulfill federal requirements, like identifying potential allergens.

“We certainly don’t want there to be food-borne illness in our products,” Proos said.

The legislation will continue to the Senate for approval before heading to the governor’s desk. Gov. Granholm has not offered her opinion on the legislation; however, she governs over the MDA, which has been at negotiation tables. If signed, the legislation would take effect immediately.

The committee process sought input on the legislation from a workgroup made up of the Michigan Department of Agriculture, Michigan Farm Bureau, Farmers Market Association and lawmakers.

Where can I buy local?

To locate Michigan farmer’s markets, visit www.farmersmarkets.msu.edu.

Michigan Gets Boost for Homemade Food: Lawmakers Say Measure Will Help Entrepreneurs

By DOUGLAS FARMER
South Bend Tribune

June 12, 2010

Farmers market patrons could notice a change in products at their local markets later this summer. Michigan legislators took the first step to legalizing the sale of certain homemade foods at farmers markets and roadside stands this week.

“What the bill allows people to do is if you have your favorite grandma’s recipe and make it, you can sell it,” Benton Harbor farmer’s market advocate Christopher Bedford said. “This is a very big deal. … You basically have this great local food movement.”

The Michigan House Agriculture Committee approved Bills 5280 and 5837, introduced jointly by Rep. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, and Rep. Pam Byrnes, D-Ann Arbor, at a committee meeting Wednesday. The two bills, if passed by the House of Representatives and the state Senate, would grant an exemption to “a cottage food operation” from licensing and inspection laws previously required.

Currently, any prepared food, such as pies and pastries, must come from a Michigan Department of Agriculture certified kitchen, Proos said. He estimated the cost of such a kitchen at “between $15,000 and $25,000.”

Thus, homemade prepared foods could not be sold legally. If the bills pass, these foods could be sold at farmers markets and road-side stands.

“It says that foods defined under the act are essentially not regulated by the state,” Bedford said. “People can sell directly to their customers. They can’t sell to wholesalers or through anybody else, but at markets to their customers.”

Proos said it was time for this change.

“It was really a hindrance to the entrepreneurial spirit,” he said. “This eliminates the barrier entry. The idea behind it is who knows who the next Mrs. Fields is going to be, starting out in a small way.”

Lee LaVanway of the Benton Harbor Fruit Market feels the bills, while a step in the right direction,

limit individuals to keep their operation too small scale. The bills would grant the “cottage food operation” exemption only to operations that do not exceed $15,000 in gross sales annually.

“I like this effort. I think the concept is good, but that $15,000 limitation shouldn’t fly,” he said. “If we are serious about creating jobs and revitalizing our local economies here in the great fruit belt, we need to look at small farms.”

Proos said the limitation was created with safety as a priority.

“The idea behind it is the food safety is the number one goal and objective,” he said. “It is not a number that turns it into a commercial industry.

“Once you get to the point of the $15,000 threshold, then I think you are in a position you should consider capitalizing your product through a proper commercial kitchen and move to the next level. This is a business incubator in the farm market.”

Cottage food operations must meet a few requirements still to be eligible to sell homemade foods according to the bills. Mainly, labels that indicate ingredients, potential allergies, and location of the kitchen must be placed on any food, as well as a label that reads, “Made in a home kitchen that has not been inspected by the Michigan Department of Agriculture.”