MISSOULA, Mont. - At Saturday's farmers market in Missoula, many of the vendors were already aware of the new changes brought about by the new cottage food law. The law took effect on Oct. 1, and is the first of its kind in the state of Montana.
"I think it is a good move on the part of the legislature," said farmers market vendor Michael Dean, "it allows me more opportunities to vend."
The new law designates low risk food such as dried fruits, jams, jellies, and baked goods as 'cottage food'. Up until the law took effect, they had been regulated by the county. As of Oct. 1 they are regulated by the state. The new law also eases regulations, such as requiring the food to be prepared in a commercial kitchen. Cottage food can now be made in a home kitchen and still be sold.
"Well this law clears up a lot of things that were very vague for a long time." says Anne Little, owner of the Little Company, "It gives people an appeal process, and it gives us sanitary guidelines."
Under the new law, a vendor must become registered to sell their food anywhere besides at a farmer's market. They may not however sell online.
"There is registration fee of 40 dollars. It is not a terrible amount of paperwork, it is a very fair amount, just time consuming." says Dean.
While the law may seem positive for many, there are some drawbacks for those who own commercial kitchens.
"It is to a certain extent going to reduce some of my customer base," says Anne Little, "but on the other hand it is making things clearer, easier to use, and expanding the availability of good food for the public, so it works both ways."