, ,

Farmers Sue State Over Ban On Selling Homemade Baked Goods

Senate Has Also Passed 'Cookie Bill' To Overturn The Prohibition

Parth Shah/WPR

A group of Wisconsin farmers is suing state agricultural officials in hopes of lifting the ban on selling homemade baked goods.

Under current law, selling baked goods that were made in a home kitchen can lead to six months of jail time and up to $1,000 in fines.

Renting out a commercial kitchen isn’t an option for Lisa Kivirist. She serves homemade muffins to guests at the bed-and-breakfast she owns in Green County — however, she can’t sell them separately.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

“We are the southernmost road in Wisconsin, so I can see Illinois,” she said. “If I lived half a mile south, I could earn up to $25,000 a year selling my baked goods. But I’m not moving.”

Kivirist and two other Wisconsin farmers who are suing the state, along with the Institute for Justice, are calling the ban unconstitutional. Their lawsuit comes a day after the Senate passed a so-called Cookie Bill, which would overturn the ban. The Assembly has yet to vote on the measure.

Critics like Dave Schmidt, executive director of the Wisconsin Bakers Association, say lifting the ban could hurt brick-and mortar-bakeries.

“If several people in a certain market or particular community are doing that, they’re eating away at a local baker that’s been there for 100 years and taking away his livelihood. How is that fair?” said Schmidt.

The bill would only allow for up to $7,500 in sales each year. All products would need to be labeled with the name and address of the baker.

The bill was introduced first in the 2013-2014 session; it passed the Senate, but wasn’t heard in the Assembly.

Wisconsin and New Jersey are the only states that ban the sale of home baked goods.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that the name of the Wisconsin Bakers Assocation is Dan Schmidt. His name is Dave Schmidt.