by Monica Wiitanen, WCC Director at Large
In early July, Colorado State Senator Gail Schwartz (D-District 5) met with cottage foods producers in Delta County. She wanted to hear how the new Colorado Cottage Foods law was working for us, what concerns we had, and what impediments we had encountered. Gov. Hickenlooper signed the Cottage Foods Act, which WCC actively lobbied for the past two years, in March 2012.
The list of issues we provided to Sen. Schwartz included the safe food handling and the processing course requirements, and two licenses mentioned in Colorado Department of Agriculture and CSU Extension flyers. CSU Extension offered a webinar for prospective cottage foods producers on July 11th, which is available online (scroll down to Resources).
Regarding the course requirements, one person who intended to make jams and jellies was told she didn’t need to take the canning class but did need to take a Manager’s safe food handling class. She took both to make sure she had covered the requirements, and was told during the ServSafe class that a new course is being developed especially for cottage foods producers and will be available in October. Hopefully it will be more reasonable priced than the $120 Manager’s course and cover subjects relevant to our operations.
When I spoke to someone at the Colorado Department of Agriculture about the two licenses required to buy commodities and farm products directly from farmers to use in making our products, I was told that the Commodity Handler’s License ($350 per year plus a $10,000 bond) would not be required to buy a few sacks of grain to grind but the $75 Farm Products Retail License would.
The reason? To make sure the farmer got paid. And if I paid in cash? I would still need that license. However, whoever Sen. Schwartz talked with agreed that the licenses shouldn’t be necessary. We’ll see when the informational flyer reflects the new thinking on the matter.
I encourage you to read the bill and remember that implementation of the law is still being worked out. Sen. Schwartz continues her conversations with the agencies to ensure that the intent of the law is realized to the greatest extent possible.