DENVER – For small-scale producers of homemade goods like jams, dried fruits and even farm fresh eggs, it will now be easier to sell those goods directly to consumers thanks to a bipartisan piece of legislation signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper last week.
On March 15, Hickenlooper signed the Local Foods, Local Jobs Act (Senate Bill 48), which supports local small growers and producers by easing impediments to local markets by exempting home kitchens from certain health inspections that are applied to large commercial retailers.
Those operating home kitchens will be trained on safe food handling and processing procedures as well as labeling requirements to ensure healthy and safe products are sold. Passage of the Local Foods, Local Jobs Act, which was sponsored by State Rep. Don Coram (R-Montrose) and State Sen. Gail Schwartz (D-Snowmass), helps ease the restrictions on small goods producers during a time that farmers markets across the state are gaining popularity.
The Act allows for the sale of home-processed foods that do not require refrigeration to be sold directly to consumers at farm stands, farmers markets and through Community Supported Agriculture organizations. Producers, after receiving instruction on food handling and safety, can sell spices, teas, dehydrated fruits and vegetables, as well as baked goods, candies, honey, jams, preserves and farm fresh eggs as long as they are transported in accordance with applicable state rules. Home producers under the bill can earn $5,000 or less per year, per eligible product. The legislation also outlines several guidelines that home producers must follow including specific labeling requirements.
“There was a lot of interest in this all over the state,” Coram said on Monday. “It gives small growers and people who may be at home a real source of income. There may be some very successful people out there and we don’t know it. We may have another Mrs. Fields out there. It was a good bill.”
Coram went on to say passage of the bill was about 15 months in the making after it faced opposition last year.
“It got out of committee last year but died on the floor,” he said. “We used the summer and fall to bring all of the people that had opposition to the bill and found a way to get their support.”
“The passage of this legislation is so important to the economic success of our small farmers and producers, and I’m grateful many of these folks were able to come down to the State Capitol to testify and see all of their hard work signed into law,” Schwartz said in a statement released after the bill was signed. Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture John Salazar, as well as local farmers and producers, were present to show their support at the bill signing.
“I appreciate my colleagues across the aisle for their support of this bill,” Schwartz said. “I encourage everyone to support local producers and your farmers’ markets to enjoy Colorado’s locally grown goods.”
Colorado joins nearly 30 other states that have passed similar laws to promote local commerce of local products.
“I think it’s great,” said Telluride Farmers Market boardmember Kris Holstrom. “I know we are pretty obsessed with food safety, as we should be, but some requirements may go too far. For low hazard foods, it doesn’t make sense to require a commercial kitchen. To me, this [bill] is an excellent move and I am happy to see it. It certainly makes our job easier at the farmers market.”
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