Colorado Cottage Foods bill clears first hurdle

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Colorado Cottage Foods bill clears first hurdle

Fruit and vegetables fetch low prices at the market, but when raspberries are turned into jam, a higher price can be sought. Value-added goods, like jams, present an economic opportunity for Colorado farmers and communities, but legal barriers currently stand in the way.

Earlier this week, WCC members traveled to Denver to testify on Senate Bill 48, the Colorado Cottage Foods Act. Members from Mesa, Montrose and Delta Counties told the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources & Energy Committee that SB 48 would boost local economies by bolstering local foods systems and agri-tourism. The Bipartisan Bill passed out of Committee on a 5 to 1 vote.

Thanks for testimony in the committee hearing by WCC members Glenn Sommer, Claudette Konola, Marv Ballantyne and Monica Wiitanen.

Our team had clearly done some effective groundwork with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, local health departments, allies and opponents. We received excellent coaching from Director of Organizing Frank Smith and Lobbyists Chuck & Sol Malick.

Additional convincing testimony was delivered by representatives from the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, the San Luis Local Foods Coalition, Colorado Bee Keepers Association, Vitamin Cottage/Natural Grocers, San Luis Valley Early Childhood Council, and even the Colorado Farm Bureau.

And how could we not be thankful for the dedicated efforts of Senator Gail Schwartz and her staff for initiating the bill, balancing it for various interests, and skillfully shepherding it through the hearing? There may yet be some tweaking as to liability insurance requirements. We are optimistic the bill will pass the Senate.

  Then it will move on to the house and House Sponsor Representative Don Coram. We will again need to provide supporting testimony in one or more House Committee hearings.

COLORADO COTTAGE FOODS ACT


Introduced to foster sales of value-added local foods directly to consumers, the Colorado Cottage Foods Act (SB-48) has bipartisan sponsorship. SB48 allows Non-hazardous, home processed foods that do not require refrigeration to be sold directly to consumers. Home processed goods would be sold at farm stands, farmers markets, and Community Supported Agriculture organizations. If passed, local producers would be able to sell:

  • Spices, teas, dehydrated fruits &veggies, nuts, seeds
  • Honey, jams, jellies, preserves, fruit butter
  • Baked goods, including candies
  • Farm Fresh eggs, if transported in accordance with applicable state rules.

How Much Can be Sold?

  • The Cottage Foods Act won’t make people rich, but every penny helps in today’s economy.
  • Home producers can earn $5,000 or less per year, per eligible product.
  • Persons can sell 250 dozen farm fresh eggs per month to consumers.

What’s the Problem?

  • Direct-to-consumer sale of home-processed food is illegal.
  • Commercial kitchens are required for any food product intended for sale in Colorado.
  • Small-scale producers can’t afford commercial kitchens.
  • Producers lose potential profit, and consumers are left wanting local foods.

What are the Benefits?

  • Nutrition! Fresh, local food is much more healthy than packaged, processed goods.
  • Dollars! Producers could legally sell their homemade goods and make $5,000 per product.
  • Local Prosperity! A dollar spent on local food stays in the community, it boosts agriculture and helps local families.

How You Can Help:

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