Update: The House Agriculture Committee will be taking up this legislation at noon on May 5, 2010. If you want to show up to testify in support, please bring 30 copies of your testimony. The hearing will be held in room 307 of the House Office Building, 124 North Capitol, Lansing, MI. Hope to see you there!
When I heard about HB 5837, the cottage food operations bill (or amendment?), I was excited. If this passed 100-1000s of Michiganers would be able to produce certain food items in their homes without having to find/rent a commercially certified kitchen. That would mean if wanted to bake a few cookies in my home to sell at the Farmers Market next to my microgreens, I could.
So what is happening with this bill? When will I and the 100/1000 of would be home bakers, jam makers, and a other food producers be able to get baking?
I talked with Rep. Pam Byrnes, my representative for Washtenaw County who just o happened to proposed HB 5837. She said that the bill needs to first go to the Agriculture Committee, which is Chaired by Rep. Mike Huckleberry. When I ask what the buzz was around the bill, she said that there were some concerns about food safety.
I personally hope these concerns can be addressed so the bill can pass.
If the Agriculture Committee passes the bill then it will go to the House followed by the Senate, and then it will be signed into law by the Governor. Rep. Byrnes said that she is hoping that there will be a Agriculture Committee hearing on the bill in late April. Hopefully is will pass the committee. If not, that will be that for now.
If all goes well and this bill is fast tracked (insert extreme optimism, and naive look at politics here), I can be making cookies for sale when the Westside Farmer’s Market starts up in June.
Where can I sell my food products if this bill gets passed?
Rep. Byrnes said that the bill will allow items to be sold out of the home, at a roadside stand, at farmers markets and at non-profit events. Cottage Food Operation foods will not be able to be sold online, out of state, at craft fairs, flea markets, or at for profit events/venues.
So, what if anything can advocates of HB 5837 do to help make this happen?
I, for one, plan to contact Rep. Huckleberry and express my interest and enthusiasm for the bill, and that I have an economic interest for having it passed.
I see a big potential for grass roots economic growth, food product innovation, increased community building through local food, and a boon for food tourism in Michigan. I see a food tourist boom of driving vacation just to visit Michigan’s newly created Roadside Stands that feature homemade food items.