Amid the turmoil surrounding the budget and pension bills during this year’s general session, the passage of House Bill 263, aka the Home Baking Bill, went unnoticed by most, but it could have a big impact on those who want to earn money while working from home.
The bill changed Kentucky cottage food law to classify home-based processors as any person who “produces or processes whole fruit and vegetables, mixed-greens, jams, jellies, sweet sorghum syrup, preserves, fruit butter, bread, fruit pies, cakes, or cookies” out of his or her home. Previously, only farmers were allowed to sell processed or baked goods out of their home kitchens.
The change allows people like Paducah resident Jennifer Lopez — not that one — to legally earn money by making and selling the above-mentioned goods out of their houses without the need for a commercial kitchen. Lopez helped lead a charge to change Kentucky’s law after moving to the state from Missouri where she ran a custom cake business out of her house.
She started a website called Kentucky Home Bakers in July 2017 that featured information about the cottage food, asked for support and featured stories of everyday Kentuckians who bake and sold cookies, cakes, cupcakes, pies and other treats out of their homes.
After having her fourth child in 2015, Lopez said in a blog post on the website, she and her husband decided it’d be best for her to stay home.
“I could no longer afford child care for 4 children, almost $800 a month. Baking custom cakes from home would benefit my family considerably,” she wrote. “I could still help my husband out, who works 2 jobs, and would not have to give over half my paycheck to child-care expenses.”
With the passage of the House Bill 263, Kentucky has joined 47 other states with similar laws in effect, according to the Institute for Justice, a libertarian nonprofit law firm. Previously, home bakers could be fined up to $5,000 if found selling their goods.
“Having a home–baking business will not only allow me to earn extra income for my family’s budget, it will also provide a great opportunity for many other families to start their own small baking businesses,” Lopez said in a news release following the bill’s passage. “So many people are excited and ready to fire up their ovens and get to work!”
The new law will go into effect on July 1.
The bill does not limit how much a home-based processors can produce from their kitchen, but farmers, who now qualify as home-based microprocessors, can only earn a maximum net income of $35,000 annually through the sale of homemade goods, jams and other processed food items. They can also sell acidified and low-acid canned foods, which home-based processors are not allowed to do, according to the altered law.
A spokeswoman for nonprofit Community Ventures Corp. said they don’t believe the bill will impact its food-focused business incubator Chef Space.
“We don’t believe it will have much effect on Chef Space and the reason being, the dynamic of this industry segment is once a business reaches a certain size in the production of units then they will need to move into a larger, commercial kitchen to accommodate growth,” said Jessica Morgan, marketing and public relations director for Community Ventures and Chef Space. “It is our hope that once those businesses would reach that point in their production, they will give us a call!”
Correction: A previous version of this article was incorrect. Home bakers do not need to pay a fee or receive an inspection to operate. The story has been updated to reflect changes made by the Kentucky Senate prior to the bill’s passage.