Tuesday, April 17, 2012

US: Local Foods, Local Jobs Act

Home producers of value-added food products such as canned, baked or dry goods, have either had to use their home kitchen under the radar, or spend money renting commercial kitchens. Most states require that food products be made in commercial approve kitchens, but this added expense many home-based food businesses from even getting off the ground.

As jobs in this economy are still elusive for many, it doesn’t make sense for local and state authorities to put more roadblocks in the way of starting a home business. And with the growing interest in local foods, the cottage food industry offers a chance to improve the local economy.

As a producer of home-made spice blends and herbal tea blends (with no budget to rent a commercial kitchen), I was happy to learn that Colorado has adopted the Local Foods, Local Jobs Act. The act eases impediments to local markets by exempting home kitchens from certain health inspections that are generally aimed at larger retailers. Food producers using home kitchens will be trained on safe food handling and processing procedures, and will be required to properly label their products as coming from a home kitchen.

Senator Gail Schwartz, sponsor of the Local Foods, Local Jobs Act, said: “I am pleased to see that this jobs bill passed with bipartisan support as it will directly benefit many hard-working Coloradans. By empowering Colorado’s small farms and small-business entrepreneurs, this bill will create jobs, strengthen the economy, and promote tourism in our local communities.”

Small producers who sell directly to their customers are now exempt from having to use commercial kitchens or pay for health department inspections, or special permits. The act covers producers who sell less than $100,000 worth of products each year, a limit design to keep these small businesses from running in direct competition with larger local businesses.

Source: http://www.localsustainability.net/2012/03/local-foods-local-jobs-act/

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