Wyoming Food Freedom celebrated as national model

PINEDALE – Far from our state lines, people celebrate the fact that Wyoming was the first in the nation to pass its Food Freedom Act – five years ago this month. 

Added to that is the recent successful passage of Wyoming House Bill 84, “Food Freedom Amendments” to become House Enrolled Act 43 and a newly amended state law after Gov. Mark Gordon’s signature on March 12 in Cheyenne. 

“The purpose of the Wyoming Food Freedom Act is to allow for a producer’s production and sale of homemade food or drink products for an informed end consumer and to encourage the expansion of agricultural sales at farmers markets, ranches, farmers and producer’s homes,” HEA 43 explains. 

These products would be exempt from licensing, packaging and labeling restrictions – as long as signs clearly inform the end consumer that “this food was made in a home kitchen, is not labeled or inspected and may contain allergens.” 

With the signs, these products could be sold in a grocery store, restaurant, retail location and also at the previously mentioned farmers markets, farms, ranches and producers’ homes. 

“The Wyoming law has you covered, as it only allows low-risk third-party food sales and requires the seller to ‘inform the end consumer that the homemade food is not certified, labeled, licensed, packaged, regulated or inspected.’ Then it's up to you to decide,” said Baylen Linnikin of the Farm-to-Table Consumer Legal Defense Fund, based in Virginia. 

This year’s bipartisan food freedom amendments were sponsored by Wyoming Rep. Shelly Duncan and Rep. Tyler Lindholm, now on the board of the Farm-toConsumer Legal Defense Fund. 

The new law broadens the Wyoming Food Freedom Act, making it legal for people to market homemade non-potentially hazardous foods at third-party establishments. These foods can be jams, uncut fruits and vegetable, pickled vegetable, hard candies, fudge, nut mixes, granola, dry soup mixes (excluding meat-based soup mixes), coffee beans, popcorn “and baked goods that do not include dairy or meat frosting or filling or potentially hazardous frosting or filling.”

“Potentially hazardous foods” that are not allowed are those that require time or temperature control for safety, such as food requiring refrigeration, dairy products, quiches, pizzas, frozen doughs, meat and cooked vegetables and beans. 

The statute defines a “producer” as “any person who grows, harvests, prepares or processes any food or drink products on the person’s owned or leased property” with amended language that limits that producer to making less than 250,000 individual food or drink products a year and does not sell more than $250,000 in gross revenue from the products’ sales. 

"Wyoming is proud to have one of the best food freedom laws in the country," Rep. Duncan said in an email. "These changes potentially create more income for farmers, stay-at-home parents, retirees, and anyone else who has a talent in the kitchen. The expansion would also allow consumers to buy more fresh, healthy and local food at affordable prices." 

The consumer group plans to celebrate Wyoming’s Food Freedom Act and new amendments in Wyoming “later this year.”

It describes itself as providing members with legal representation, education and policy work “to create the most favorable regulatory climate possible.” 

“The fifth anniversary is a huge milestone,” said blogged writer Amelia Martin on March 3. “Small food producers in Wyoming have been enjoying the freedom of legally selling foods they produced in their home kitchens or from their farms and ranches, and there have been no cases of food-borne illness tied to the legislation. WFFA is one of the better food freedom laws in the country. While other states are following suit, over 40 states allow the sale of cottage foods produced in home kitchens.” 

Since Wyoming took the first big step, North Dakota and Maine have followed suit, she added. To read the final version of HEA 43, go to https://wyoleg.gov/2020/Enroll/ HB0084.pdf. For more about the Farm-to-Table Legal Defense Fund, visit https://www.farmtoconsumer.org.