Here's why MN now has thousands more small bakeries and pickling businesses

A rule change in 2015 has opened the door for thousands of home-based food entrepreneurs.
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Minnesota is home to thousands more home-based food and gardening businesses thanks to the relaxation of laws restricting "cottage food" producers.

More than 3,000 people have registered small business in their homes selling bakery products, pickles, jams, jellies, and home-grown fruit and vegetables since new rules were put in place in 2015, according to the Minnesota House of Representatives.

The rule change more than tripled the cap on how much income cottage businesses could make selling non-refrigerated goods without needing a license or inspection, upping it to $18,000.

Owners just need to undertake some training and register their business before they can start selling.

The Institute for Justice, which fought in 2015 to get the cap raised, said the relaxed regulation means home-based food entrepreneurs are no longer "forced to rent out commercial kitchen space" before they can legally sell their treats.

The St. Cloud Times did a feature on one of those who took advantage of the relaxed limits, Sartell's Katie Kirkeby, who set up her bakery business Cupkate's a month after the law came into effect.

After originally making cakes for her family, she expanded to specialize in catering events, as well as selling at bake sales, farmers' markets and maker's fairs.

How do you become a cottage food producer?

There's a list of guidelines on the Minnesota Department of Agriculture website, and the first thing you need to do is register with the MDA.

Then, if you make less than $5,000 a year, you have to take a basic food safety course once every three years, while those earning $5,001-$18,000 take a more advanced course (that lasts about three hours) and pay a $50 registration fee.

There are limits on what you can sell – namely they have to be "non-potentially hazardous food" such as baked goods, certain jams and jellies, home canned pickles, vegetables and fruits with a pH of 4.6 or lower.

Everything you sell needs to be labeled with your name, address, the date it was produced and a list of ingredients including potential allergens, as well as a sign that says: "These products are homemade and not subject to state inspection." (You can post it online if you have a website.)

Although you can sell from a private home, farmers markets, community events or over the internet, you must deliver food "directly to the ultimate consumer" and the person who makes the food must be the person who sells/ships it.

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