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The state of Wisconsin is keeping its citizens safe…from home-made baked goods.

This sounds like a story from The Onion, but it’s completely real. In Wisconsin, it is illegal to sell cookies and cakes you made in your personal kitchen:

Anyone with an oven and a recipe should be able to have a baking business—but that is not the case in Wisconsin, where selling baked goods made in your home kitchen is punishable by up to $1,000 in fines or six months in jail…

The ban is purely political. Commercial food producers like the Wisconsin Bakers Association are lobbying against a “Cookie Bill”—which would allow the limited sale of home baked goods—in order to protect themselves from competition. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who owns his own commercial food business, even refused to allow the Assembly to vote on a Cookie Bill last session, despite bipartisan support.


The bakery association argued that home baking sales shouldn’t be legal because—and again, this is a real quote—”too many small bakery owners are over burdened by regulations, we don’t need more competition, we need cooperation from our government!”

The “logic” here is that bakers with commercial kitchens are over-regulated, so it’s only fair that bakers with home kitchens be regulated right out of business.

Um, what?!

It’s almost like the Wisconsin Bakers Association forgot that the government they want to cooperate with them is the source of their own regulatory pain.

The situation gets even sillier when you realize just how specific the ban is: Selling canned goods made in a home kitchen is legal. Or raw apple cider made at home? That’s A-ok with Wisconsin. Homemade popcorn? Also fine. But selling a cake made in the same kitchen on the same appliances will somehow, suddenly make you a menace to society.

Fortunately, the Institute for Justice (IJ)—a libertarian law nonprofit with a great record striking down dumb regulations like onerous hair-braiding licensesis fighting back:

[O]n January 13, 2016, three Wisconsin farmers joined with the Institute for Justice in filing a constitutional lawsuit in state court against Wisconsin’s State Department of Agriculture. The lawsuit will ask the court to strike down this arbitrary home-baked-good ban and allow home bakers to sell home-baked goods—like muffins, cookies and breads—directly to their friends, neighbors and other consumers.

“If I could legally still home-baked goods, it would add an additional income stream to our family,” says one woman who’s working with IJ. “In the rural community, people work really hard and they don’t make a lot of money”—and it’s high time Wisconsin repealed this ridiculous ban on a safe, delicious source of additional income.

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