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Cottage Food Laws can cause confusion and stress for any home-based producer of cottage foods. Governing who you may sell to, where you may sell, how much you may sell, and how you may sell cottage food can vary widely per state. Some states require a cottage permit, whereas others do not.
To get state-specific, do you find yourself asking what is Missouri cottage food law and how does it impact my cottage food business? Like all things that have the word ‘law’ attached to them, Missouri cottage food law has quite a bit to unpack.
Missouri cottage food law was made official on August 28th, 2014 under SB 525. SB 525 was introduced into the 2014 legislative session on December 2nd, 2013 with First Reading on January 8th, 2014. It was sponsored by Senator Mike Cunningham, Senator Ryan Silvey, and Representative Lyndall Fraker. The bill was signed into law by Governor Jay Nixon on July 2nd, 2014. Prior to August 28th, 2014, cottage foods were allowed in only a few Missouri counties. It was SB 525 that made the industry legal statewide.
While the Missouri law is somewhat more limiting in what it defines as cottage foods, it is fairly liberal in contrast to other states as far as allowable earnings. While some states might only allow up to $5,000 a year in cottage food sales, the state of Missouri allows for up to $50,000 a year in sales, making cottage foods a potential second income for many families. Cottage foods are regulated in one law and there is not a Missouri baker bill with specific Missouri home bakery regulations. Additionally, the law doesn’t address any specific Missouri food safety regulations or Missouri farmers market regulations.
In Missouri, you never need to ask yourself, “How much does a cottage license cost?” or “How long does it take to get a cottage food license?” Missouri did not specify any form of Missouri cottage food license in the law, so you are among food operations that do not need permits. prevents local health departments from also requiring any health department food license. The state of Minnesota Department of Health does not require any cottage permit, inspection, or training.
Cottage food producers may sell their products at events (fairs and festivals), roadside stands, farmers markets, and out of the home. As a cottage food business, you may deliver the food or have it picked up at your home.
Should you be asking yourself, “Do I need a license to sell food online?”, in Missouri, all sales must be in-person and direct to the final consumer of the cottage food. This means that Internet sales, sales to and through restaurants, and sales to and through retail stores are prohibited.
There have been hopeful moments for selling food online in Missouri.
A new bill, HB 410, was proposed in 2017 and would have opened up online sales for the cottage foods industry but failed to pass the Senate.
In 2021, Missouri House Bill 357 was introduced that would have modified SB 525 by changing the stipulation of selling over the Internet as still not allowed, “unless both the cottage food production operation and the purchaser are located in this state”. Cottage food producers would be able to sell online, in-state only. While the bill was passed out of committee on August 19th, 2021, it has not been voted on by the Senate and is considered dead.
A few other limitations are that commercial equipment is prohibited in the use of making cottage foods and an inspected commercial kitchen may not be used for production. So, the law limits cottage foods to home-based production using residential equipment. Cottage foods in Missouri are truly a cottage industry.
There is no requirement for business licensing for the production/ sale of cottage foods. Selling food out of your home is a business activity and must be filed on an IRS 1040, Schedule C form as a sole proprietorship under your individual tax ID number. The state of Missouri does not require registration for any sole proprietorship.
Unless you want to operate the business under your name, it is highly recommended to file to use a DBA (doing business as), or fictitious name, in Missouri. While it does not guarantee rights to that name, the DBA technically allows the use of the name on marketing communications, bank accounts, and legal documents.
Other business forms, like LLCs, can be filed in Missouri and it is worth talking to your accountant about the tax benefits associated with other business forms.
Labeling is specified in the law and includes the provisions that a label must be attached to each unit to be sold.
Labels for all processed and packaged foods must include:
While not required, statements of the presence of allergens are strongly recommended. Additionally, it is recommended that honey manufacturers/processors include the additional statement: “Honey is not recommended for infants less than twelve (12) months of age”. When making your labels, remember that there is no “too far” in protecting yourself from liability.
Localities may have additional regulations that impact cottage food producers. A Kansas City cottage food law doesn’t exist, but the city does require a farmers market food license for selling food out of any booth in a farmers market. Looking at other areas, like St Charles County cottage food law or Jackson County Missouri cottage food law, the approach is similar.
So what is considered cottage food in Missouri? In SB525, Missouri defined a cottage food organization as one that “produces a baked good, a canned jam or jelly, or a dried herb or herb mix for sale at the individual’s home”.
Many consider the Missouri list more prohibitive than other states, but that could always change in the future.
Specifically, the allowed foods are:
While not in the law, the list of allowed foods infers what is prohibited. The list of prohibited foods is longer and includes:
There can be big differences in cottage food laws by state. Everything from licensing, total sales, and allowed foods can vary widely. Kansas cottage food laws can differ tremendously from Illinois cottage food law. Labeling tends to be similar in most states though. A Florida cottage food label template, specified in Florida cottage laws, is very similar to Missouri. Illinois cottage law limits venues to just farmer’s markets.
Let’s break down cottage food laws by a few states and discuss what is different from Missouri in each.
In Alaska, producers are limited to $25,000 a year in sales. A cottage foods business must get a business license at a cost of $50 a year. The allowed foods are an extensive list, allowing almost everything that is prohibited by Missouri.
Arizona is considered to be an innovator in cottage food laws and the industry is really big in the state. There is no sales limit. A producer is required to take an online course and register online, both for free. Products can be sold through indirect sales (grocery stores, retail stores, etc.). Sales can be made online and through mail order. While the list of allowed foods is still considerably larger than in Minnesota, it is fairly restrictive on perishable items, syrups, and sauces. Your tasty preserves can get too many more customers in Arizona.
Oregon limits sales to $20,000. You must complete a $10 food handler training course to acquire a Food Handler Card. Selling is prohibited online, in restaurants, in retail stores, and wholesale. You may use the Internet to advertise. Allowed foods are still more extensive than Missouri. Prohibited items include jams and jellies, fruit butters, preserves, pickles, salsas, fermented foods, other sauces, juices, and meat jerkies.
Rhode Island has no cottage food law, making cottage food production available only to farmers that sell over $2,500 of agricultural products per year.
South Dakota limits sales to $5,000 and doesn’t allow non-baked goods. Allowed venues are the home and online. Online is only allowed if the consumer picks up the product at the processor’s home.
As you see, every state can be very different. Missouri is certainly more restrictive, relative to most states, on product offerings and sales methods, but far less so on licensing, regulations, and the earnings limit.
Here is to the success of your cottage food business!
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