New legislation will expand Mississippi’s sales cap for cottage operators to $35,000. Previously, cottage food operators were capped at $20,000.
That was the third lowest in the country. Mississippi is now above the national average – for state’s that have a cap. Twenty-seven states have no limitation on what cottage food operators can earn. Which makes sense because all this cap does is restrict an entrepreneur’s ability to earn an income, which then contributes to the tax base.
Several years ago, Mississippi brought home bakers into the light with the passage of the state’s cottage food law. This allows individuals to sell certain allowable products that they make at home. They can sell the products in various settings, such as farmers’ markets, without a government inspection or a professional kitchen. And there is no license required or government fees to pay to begin.
Opponents of cottage food operators, largely the established restaurant or bakery industries, will point to the fact that these operators aren’t regulated by the state. But there has not been evidence to suggest that the lack of comprehensive regulations pose a threat to public health as some indicate. Consumers know what they are purchasing, where they are purchasing it from, and that it does not come from a government-inspected kitchen. They willingly accept the so-called risk.
Today’s technology makes it easy to find high-quality food, read reviews from happy (or unhappy) customers, and make knowledgeable decisions. Online reviews and apps are doing the job of a government inspector.
In reality, the current limitations just serve to limit competition for established businesses. By eliminating restrictions in Mississippi, we can give consumers new options, grow the economy, and encourage entrepreneurship.
As we outlined in High Road to Freedom, providing more freedom to cottage food operators, particularly in the new economy, is a good thing. This is a step in the right direction for a path to food freedom in Mississippi.