The Institute for Justice has released a video on YouTube (below) which tells the story of a woman named Jane who started a home-based baking business in Minnesota. A law passed in the state in 2004 exempts homemade goods from the food-licensing procedure, but also places strict restrictions on both where the items can be sold and how much money one can make selling them items. Jane Astramecki, the woman whose story the video describes, and the Institute for Justice are suing the state saying that the restrictive policy serves only to protect established bakeries and retard her entrepreneurial growth.
The annual limit Jane can make from her home-business is $5000, which is less than $100 per week. According to a report from KARE news, Jane believes that if her food is okay to sell at farmer’s markets, it should be okay to sell in stores, saying “I think that if they are willing to buy it knowing—because I definitely let them know it’s homemade—it should be their choice not the state’s choice.”
Yet, for many it makes perfect sense—from a safety standpoint—to prevent uninspected products produced in a home onto store shelves. However, the law also limits Jane’s ability to privately cater events. According to the video, she has received orders from customers she’s served at Farmer’s Markets for larger quantities of certain products. Unfortunately, because of the law, she has to turn them down as well.
Minnesota also aggressively enforces the law as well. According to a report from Watchdog.org, state organizations have “ordered a home bakery in Winona to shut down after pictures of cupcakes were featured in a local business magazine. On another occasion, a home bakery was ordered closed after a nearby upscale bakery filed a complaint with the state Department of Health.” A spokesperson for the Institute for Justice claimed that the law serves only to protect established businesses (such as bakeries) from competition.