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This year has had many big pieces of legislation get signed into law. As a result, there are some other issues that did not get much coverage. I was really proud of some of the “food freedom” laws passed this year that will give Iowans more niche market opportunities to earn some money.

Many have heard about the “raw milk” legislation that was passed (SF315). It surprises many that Iowa was just one of a handful of states that did not allow the sale of raw milk. This year, we finally got this bill across the finish line. In the bill, a raw milk dairy is limited to ten milk-producing dairy animals, which could be cows, goats, or sheep. By limiting the size of the farm, and the methods of distribution, the bill meets the niche market demand, while requiring strong, local connections between consumers and producers.

The bill I personally ran was HF 661. This bill helped four different types of businesses: home food processing establishments, temporary food establishments, food processing plants, and farmers market vendors.

First, the bill helped home food processing establishments (HFPE). Last year we became one of seven states that created this niche market for new entrepreneurs to earn some extra side money by cooking and selling food out of their home. A HFPE is a business that undergoes DIA licensing, regular inspections, and have a gross sales cap of $50,000. Many use this as a stepping stone before making the big jump into starting a full restaurant. Unfortunately, during the rules process last summer, DIA established rules that made it so that food from a HFPE can only be sold if it under 41 degrees. Of the states that have similar “food freedom” laws to what we passed last year, we are the only one that have this unnecessary restriction. This bill corrects this mistake by adding “made to order food” as an item that can be sold for immediate consumption and for carry out only.

The second part of the bill helps temporary food establishments. RAGBRAI vendors are a great example of this type of business. Currently, a vendor at RAGBRAI would need to get an expensive license in each county they set up a stand. Under this bill they would be able to get one statewide license to operate.

The third part of the bill helps food processing plants. A food processing plant has a different business model. These businesses manufacture, package, and label food for consumption, but do not provide food directly to the consumer. This bill allows new plants to enter the market without all of the exorbitant start-up costs by reducing the initial inspection fee for a small operator. The most common example of this that I have seen would be a small farmer who wants to sell his beef on a store shelf.

Lastly, this bill cuts red tape and saves money for farmers market vendors. Vendors who sell items that need to be refrigerated and inspected currently have to acquire an annual license costing $150 in every county they sell. This bill changes that license to a statewide license.

All of these changes create multiple efficiencies that will save lots of time and money for small business and our inspectors. I hope you know someone who has interest in food production who can benefit from some of these changes made this year. Help spread the word of how Iowa is leading the way in food freedom!

Author: Jesse Green


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