Grow Montana has a history of helping develop state legislation that is collaborative and based on common sense.
We urge our representatives to oppose SB 199, an unnecessary and potentially damaging bill that interjects language in existing law that has not been vetted by agencies or the public. The bill disregards existing state law and administrative rules, as well as federal regulations. The Grow Montana Food Policy Coalition urges our legislators to work with our public agencies and citizens to maintain the existing laws until they can be reviewed through a thorough, collaborative process. Grow Montana supports legislation that encourages and supports value-added pursuits such as cottage food. It cannot support legislation that imperils already existing and thriving cottage food businesses.
History of Collaborative Law Making & Enforcement
- In 2013 Grow Montana worked with Kathleen Williams in the passage of HB 630, a study bill to support locally sourced and community-based food production, commonly referred to as “cottage food,” while ensuring food safety. The bill initiated a two-year effort with agencies and citizens to develop consensus recommendations.
- The Montana Legislature recognized the value of this work and passed Montana’s current cottage food law, The Montana Food Policy Modernization Act, in 2015 with unanimous bipartisan support. The Montana Food Policy Modernization Act has spurred a robust cottage food program. Today, over 300 Montanans operate food businesses, producing more than 6,000 food products from their home kitchens that are sold directly to consumers without a food license.
- Stakeholders continue to work together to simplify the application process for cottage food operators and expand the list of allowable, food products. AERO (Alternative Energy Resources Organization) is working with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services right now to assemble a working group of cottage food operators, farmers, and public servants to propose changes to the cottage food rule. You can learn more about the project here (https://aeromt.org/what-we-do/cottagefood/)
The 2021 legislative session is ignoring these accomplishments by advancing a bill that undermines the Montana Food Modernization Act. The existing Montana cottage food law represents agreement between agencies, legislators, producers, and consumers. It succeeds in supporting value-added cottage food businesses, while also protecting Montana consumers from unsafe food.
This bill has passed the senate and has been moved to the House. Please contact your legislators and encourage a NO vote on SB199.
You can find your elected officials and their contact information by visiting https://leg.mt.gov/legislator-lookup/.
Use the following link to contact the legislators or email them directly: https://leg.mt.gov/web-messaging/ .
Please see the talking points MEHA has generated about this bill HERE.