UPDATE: HONEY HAS BEEN ADDED TO THE COTTAGE FOOD LEGISLATION PLEASE SEE THE REVISED FILE BELOW FILE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON COTTAGE FOODS. A Big thanks goes to Tony Hogg for working on this issue!
As most of you know, for the past several years we have been working to allow beekeepers to legally process and sell honey direct to consumers without having to invest a large sum of money in a processing facility. With recommendations of the FDACS Small Farms Subcommittee Report to the legislature, in 2011 we are well on our way to that goal. The report covered several key small farm enterprises. (pastured poultry, eggs, honey, and cottage foods). In the course of several meetings hosted by FDACS this spring and with very positive input from Florida beekeepers the rule making process for honey has been put in motion. On May 6, 2011 the legislature passed HB 7209 which allowed for cottage food operations.
At the May 13, 2011 meeting of the Food Safety and Defense Advisory Council, FDACS stated that honey would be treated separately from cottage food. Beekeepers in correspondence to FDACS supported allowing up to 250 gallons of honey to be processed without requiring a permitted and inspected facility. I have been asked by FDACS to contact beekeepers for input on the important question: should we have honey included in the definition of cottage food or maintain it as a separate entity as reported in Small Farms report? This is where we need beekeepers to voice their opinion. By including honey under cottage food, we have the opportunity to accelerate the rule making process and be covered under Fl statute.
Please review the attached file for the preliminary rules on cottage foods and determine if this is a good thing for you. The major difference is; with inclusion in the cottage food language, beekeepers will be subject to the $15000 limit instead of a quantity limit. The other criteria will remain the same, i.e. disclaimer on label, direct sales only, complaint driven inspection, etc.
Now the important part, make your opinion known in correspondence with the FDACS. Here is a sample message showing support of having honey included in the cottage food language.