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Workshop explains intricacies of selling homemade food

by SUMMER ZALESKY Daily Inter Lake
| August 14, 2022 12:00 AM

A statewide grassroots sustainability nonprofit organization is offering a free workshop to help home-based producers understand the implications of the Montana Local Food Choice Act.

AERO, which stands for Alternative Energy Resources Organization, will host a workshop on Friday, Aug. 19 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Northwest Montana History Museum, 124 Second Ave East, Kalispell.

In April 2021, the Montana State Legislature passed Senate Bill 199 aimed at increasing the sale and consumption of homemade food and products, enhancing the agricultural economy, and providing Montana citizens with “unimpeded access to healthy food from known sources.”

With intensifying support for local agriculture, homemade products such as raw milk, poultry, and other value-added food items like pickled and canned foods, and perishable baked goods are picking up steam, according to a release from AERO.

“It is vitally important that producers understand their liability in relation to this new law,” said Sam Blomquist, AERO’s Value-Added Food Program Manager, in a release. “Each individual needs to ensure they are versed in proper food safety controls and that their business has the correct liability structures in place so they can enter this new arena of sales opportunities for home-made food products informed on how to comply with the new law, how to minimize food safety production risk, and how to maximize legal liability protection.”

While these products have previously been off-limits or difficult to obtain and sell due to licensing requirements, the law renews the possibility of these direct-to-consumer sales.

However, with these new opportunities come limitations, such as sales being limited to specific venues and products, and producers carrying more liability risk making comprehensive resources vital to the success of home-based producers, according to AERO.

The free workshops offered by AERO are set to be available throughout 2022 and 2023 to help educate on best practices regarding the new law.

AERO and partners are also set to offer resources such as a Food Safety/HACCP assessment tool, which is currently in development to support home-based, value-added producers in evaluating and managing food safety risks and implementing best practices in home kitchen operations.

To register for the workshop, visit aeromt.org/event/value-added-workshops.

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