As the number of farmers markets grow across the state, inconsistencies in regulation for the farmers who travel from county to county has become apparent, but new legislation intends to remove some of the barriers.
The goal is to make it easier for farmers to sell locally grown and homemade food products. One of the new laws known as The Local Food Business Opportunities Act, creates statewide rules.
Rebecca Osland from Illinois Stewardship Alliance says previously, one county may have required mechanical refrigeration while another said only a cooler was required. “It's just to clear up some of the inconsistencies to reduce the burden on farmers and make it easier for them to sell things like cheese and eggs that need refrigeration.”
Another law redefines what food products farmers can make at home and safely sell. Osland says previous laws only allowed for items like jelly, jams or baked goods. “Instead of saying nothing’s allowed to be made in your home kitchen except these few items, now the law will say, everything’s allowed except for these items that are more potentially hazardous like meats and dairy with some exceptions to the exceptions.”
An exception for the use of dairy would be if it is used in a homemade baked good. The laws were crafted with public health officials to make it easier to sell food, but to also be certain sanitation and food safety were a top priority.