Rural Economic Development One Oven at a Time

Publish Date: Summer 2015

“Freedom smells like cinnamon rolls.” So said Oregon Representative Mike Nearman (R-Dallas) when the Oregon House overwhelmingly passed the Small Home Business Baking Bill earlier this month. Governor Kate Brown signed it on June 16, and the new law will go into effect January 1, 2016.

The Small Home Business Baking Bill, the latest of Oregon’s innovative “cottage food” laws, will allow home bakers to make and sell small volumes of low-risk baked goods, direct to consumers, without having to obtain a food processing license from the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA).

These small home businesses are required to have an Oregon Food Handler card ( and follow the same food safety and sanitation regulations as a domestic home kitchen license holder. Sales are limited to $20,000 per year.

All goods produced under the new law need to be labeled that they are homemade and not produced in an inspected kitchen. Additionally, ODA has authority to inspect and require a license for a home baking business if there are concerns about food safety practices by that business.

Low-risk baked goods and confections are those that do not require temperature control (hot or cold) to keep the product safe from attracting or incubating harmful microorganisms. This includes bread, fruit pies, cookies, brownies, and muffins. (Marijuana edibles are explicitly prohibited by the law.)

Only direct sales to consumers are allowed. Sales can happen at farmers’ markets, farm stands, events, or at personal residences.

Oregon Food Bank’s Community Food System team worked closely with Oregon lawmakers on the bill, which OFB saw as particularly important for rural Oregon communities.

“The idea for the Small Home Business Baking Bill,” OFB’s Sharon Thornberry explains, “came from listening to communities’ concerns and ideas for their food system through our FEAST events and Community Food Assessments. We heard that many Oregon communities – especially in Eastern Oregon and the Coast – had very limited access to quality baked goods. We also heard that there are many aspiring entrepreneurs who wanted to meet this demand but were deterred by the licensing and registration process.”

OFB did its homework and found that more than 40 states have passed “cottage food laws” which make it easier for aspiring entrepreneurs to sell low-risk food products in their communities.

“The new law,” says Thornberry, “will support Oregon’s food deserts through increased access to quality baked goods, while at the same time providing an economic development opportunity in rural communities where new jobs are few and far between.”