DENVER – State lawmakers on Wednesday advanced a measure that aims at making it easier for smaller farmers and producers to sell homemade foods to consumers.
The legislation follows in the footsteps of the Cottage Foods Act, which allows producers to directly sell to consumers without certain licensing requirements. The measure this year, Senate Bill 58, would expand on and streamline the law.
Under the bill, homemade products would need to be directly delivered to an “informed end consumer,” meaning the consumer is told that the product has not been licensed, regulated or inspected. The bill would prohibit interstate commerce.
“My goal here is to make it easier for Colorado farms, Colorado agriculture, to participate in the economy,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs.
The bill passed through the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee, 8-1.
Lawmakers are expected to continue to amend the bill as it moves through the process. It was heavily amended on Wednesday to address liability and other concerns.
The legislation would also exempt small poultry farmers from certain requirements, including mandates around construction and operation of farms and packaging, to name a few.
The bill targets producers who raise and slaughter no more than 1,000 poultry each year. Poultry farmers would face labeling requirements. Farmers raising and slaughtering up to 20,000 birds would need to obtain a license.
Lawmakers are discussing adding a requirement that state health officials establish rules around health standards.
“I want to support the small (producer), but I also want to support the health of everyone,” said Sen. Linda Newell, D-Littleton.
For Kate Kavanaugh, the owner of Denver-based Western Daughters Butcher Shoppe – which sells meat, prepared foods and groceries – the issue is of critical importance to smaller producers, who she would like to support.
“When I look at our local food shed, I want to see a system where small producers can diversify their income streams and create stable, year-round profitability,” she said.