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HB 1121: No Inspections, Shorter Labels, Less Licensing for Home-Based Bakers and Canners

Representative Marli Wiese (R-8/Madison) is a coward, but at least she likes brownies.

Rep. Wiese gives us House Bill 1121, which would deregulate the homemade-food market. Wiese proposes a number of measures to make it easier for home bakers and canners to make some money on the side by selling their goods at farmers markets and elsewhere. House Bill 1121 would…

  1. Repeal the requirement that canned goods be inspected by a third-party processing authority check canned goods to ensure they meet statutory pH levels.
  2. Replace the warning currently required on Mabel’s Kuchen and Karen’s Kanned Kraut that “This product was not produced in a commercial kitchen. It has been home-processed in a kitchen that may also process common food allergens such as tree nuts, peanuts, eggs, soy, wheat, milk, fish, and crustacean shellfish” with shorter “This food was not produced in a commercial kitchen. This food may contain allergens.” (And note the kindly rewording from “product” to “food”.)
  3. Allow Mabel, Karen, et al. to sell their products through third parties without getting a food service license, as long as they aren’t making more than $150,000 a year.

In addition to this deregulation, Rep. Wiese proposes more GOP usurpation of local control by forbidding counties, townships, and municipalities from imposing any ordinances of their own regulating homemade food items.

Filed just yesterday, Wiese’s House Bill 1121 awaits its initial hearing before House Commerce and Energy. We hope Representative Wiese will bring some brownies to show the onerous labels and licenses that prevent the public from selling and buying more of those scrumptious goodies on the street.

16 Comments

  1. sx123 2021-01-29

    Botulism is a real threat. Did they kill the botulism spores when they canned the low acid foods? Buyer beware…

  2. Rebecca 2021-01-29

    I worked on the original version of the Home-Processed Foods Law, and I’ve been talking to a number of producers, farmers market managers, etc. about this bill. There are some folks who are elated, but a lot who have serious reservations.

    My big concern with the bill is the pre-emption piece for counties, townships, and munis. I’ve occasionally had to fight local governments on issues related to farmers markets, but I still have a serious problem with undercutting their authority. What’s the next area where the state decides local governments shouldn’t have a say? Oh right, that’s HB 1094.

    Note: This bill does not allow the sale of low-acid canned goods, but it does do away with the “third party processing authority” testing piece for jams, jellies, pickles, salsas, etc. I’ve honestly never loved that piece (and I was a 3rd party processing authority for a few years). Other states don’t require that testing piece for sales of high-acid, low water activity goods unless they’re selling commercially. But I’ve always been cautious about purchasing home-processed canned goods. Others may have fewer reservations.

  3. mike from iowa 2021-01-29

    Botulism is a real threat. Did they kill the botulism spores when they canned the low acid foods? Buyer beware…

    Yer state isn’t much concerned with highly contagious/deadly pandemic. What is a little botulism among friends when the authorities don’t care?

  4. Mark Anderson 2021-01-29

    Will this cover all the health care bake sales South Dakota uses instead of insurance?

  5. John 2021-01-29

    It’s amazing how the SD republicans hate local control.

    Ingredient warnings should also include mustard. If SD had a worthy health department they’d be on amending or killing HB1121.

  6. CraigSk 2021-01-29

    Dangerous idea. If you want to freely share your untested home goods with friends, fine. But if you intend to make money I think we better make to prove it is not going to kill someone. It is like this state wants to go backwards in time and forget all we have learned. The new State’s motto should be, “Just trust us!”

  7. Scott 2021-01-30

    What could happen if this proposal passes. You get some poor operator who does not do things properly, people get sick and it ends up destroying this home industry. Just the opposite of what is intended.

    That is why you want good strong regulation, good permitting and licensing. Good operators are not concerned about rules, but poor operator are.

  8. CraigSk 2021-01-30

    Excellent comment, Scott. Thanks for your input.

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-01-30

    Freedom, sx123. Coronavirus has taught us that South Dakota government has no role in preventing sickness. If you get sick, it’s your fault.

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-01-30

    I do appreciate Rebecca’s point. I’m not particularly opposed to the spirit of this bill or some of its provisions. If we’re talking about lemonade-stand-level operations, side gigs bringing in some extra income, or even a full-time small business that would otherwise be thwarted by onerous regulations, I don’t mind letting Grandma go on a baking binge and make some steady cash with her brownies and bread at the farmers market.

    But the license exemption for businesses making up to $150K seems a bit high. If you’re clearing six figures, you can afford to get a license and comply with health regulations. If you’re clearing six figures, you’re probably not just baking a dozen loaves of bread each day in your home kitchen; you’re effectively running a commercial kitchen and distributing a lot of products to a lot of people… which means one mistake in your kitchen could make a lot of people sick at once. There’s a threshold where the hazard posed by the amount of business a baker is doing rises to the level of warranting state licensing and inspection to protect the public… and I suspect that threshold somewhere shy of $150K per year of sales.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-01-30

    Whatever the proper role of government and the proper threshold for activating that intervention, Rebecca is very right that there’s no need to strike all local control from this issue. If some communities want to adopt stricter health standards (see also Brookings and its mask mandate… which seems like the kind of local exercise of authority Governor Noem encouraged to take the heat off her own administration), that’s their business, and an expression of local popular will. The market will respond accordingly: folks who appreciate clearer and stricter health standards for food sold in markets will ship more in cautious towns, while customers and vendors who prefer anarchy will take their goods and cash to Winfred.

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-01-30

    But Craig and Scott rightly emphasize the need for some sort of regulation, for the sake of consumers and producers alike. Let botulism or salmonella break out at Sioux Falls farmers market, and the big grocery lobby will seize the moment to flood the next Legislative Session with anti-small-vendor/-small-producer legislation to crush their competition and re-corner the market.

  13. Rebecca 2021-01-30

    Reiterating for those commenting about botulism: this bill does not allow the sale of low-acid canned goods. That said, I’ve seen unregulated markets where people were selling home-canned canned meat products off their tailgate. That has always been illegal and would remain so under this bill.

    Very curious to see where the DOH will come down on this bill, given they showed up to kill a similar “Food Freedom” act a few years ago. In that testimony, they specifically named the fruitful process involved in creating the initial Home-Processed Foods Act, which brought producers organized by Dakota Rural Action (myself among them), DOH, Dept of Ag, and Extension together to hammer out the details.

    It will be telling to see what side the DOH under Noem (whose office I’m hearing this bill language comes from) will come down on, or if they’ll be conspicuously absent.

  14. jake 2021-01-30

    I’m with Cory on the $150,000 deal. It most small-business, home-based enterprises showed a profit of $50,000 they’d think they were being damn successful, esp. in South Dakota! $150,000 is way too high!

  15. mike from iowa 2021-01-30

    Does this bill pertain to low-acid yellow tomatoes?

  16. Arlo Blundt 2021-02-03

    Uh, I’ll pass on the potato salad.

Comments are closed.