Many beginning farmers, understandably and justifiably, are looking for niche or small markets, rather than running a big crop or livestock operation. These niche operations may also offer other goods for sale using products from the farm, such as jellies, breads, or pies.
Are there any laws regarding sales of products such as jellies, breads, and pies? Yes there are. These laws, known as cottage food laws, address such products. Cottage foods are those foods which are potentially non-hazardous and therefore do not present the same food safety risks as other processed foods. In other words, cottage foods may be made at home or in a non-commercial kitchen. Simply, a licensed, inspected kitchen is not required for the selling of cottage foods.
Nebraska permits cottage food operations via statute. This post discusses the highlights of the cottage food laws but, as always, contact us if you have questions.
Where can I sell?
Nebraska permits cottage foods to be sold only at farmers’ markets. Thus, while the foods can be prepared in a private kitchen, the products must be sold at a farmers’ market. Further, a farmer may set up a produce stand that sells only whole, uncut fruits and vegetables.
What are cottage foods?
The Nebraska Department of Agriculture explains here but to recap:
- Certain baked goods, limited to those which are potentially non-hazardous baked goods such as breads, fruit pies, and cookies;
- Popcorn and other seeds;
- Fresh and/or dried herbs;
- Jams and jellies; and
- Prepackaged, commercially prepared snack items.
What are not cottage foods?
If you are not a licensed food establishment preparing food in an inspected, licensed facility, you may not sell:
- All low acid canned foods, such as pickles and salsa;
- Unpasteurized milk, cheese, or yogurt;
- Cream pies; and
- Food from unauthorized sources.
Okay, but do I have to tell people my cottage food was made at home?
Yes. When selling at a farmers’ market, you are required to place a sign at the point of sale stating the product was not prepared in an inspected, licensed food preparation area.
However, if your food was made in a licensed, inspected facility, there is no need for a sign.
Does my cottage food need a label?
Yes. The product must have a label that states:
- Product name;
- Business name;
- Business address;
- Ingredients; and
- Net weight.
If you need inspiration for creating a label, here is an sample label.
How much money can I make?
Nebraska law places no limits on the amount of money that can be made from selling cottage foods.
Nebraska law about cottage food is both expansive and limited. While cottage foods can only be sold at a farmers’ market, many potential items may be sold as a cottage food at an unlimited profit. If you are considering selling cottage foods in Nebraska, feel free to contact us with any questions you may have — we’re here to help!