After a season of operating under temporary regulations, it’s time to make the rules permanent for home canners.
Wisconsin had always required that canned food offered for sale be prepared in a licensed, commercial-grade kitchen, according to Donna Gilson at the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. But last winter the state legislature passed a law making some exemptions. “You sell at farmers markets and community events like church bazaars. You know, you don’t set up an Internet site and you don’t whole sale your stuff to stores in the area. You’re just selling direct to customers on a very small scale.”
That means home canners with annual sales of $5,000 or less. The foods must be acidic, such as pickles, salsa, and jams and jellies, and Gilson says, canners must use approved recipes.
The response after just one season has been great. Gilson says they got “stacks and stacks” of registrations. “The biggest problem probably that we have seen is people attempting to register to produce products that really are not permitted under the law. So that right now looks like it’s going to be our biggest need for public education.”
Home canners can hear comments or voice their own opinions at public hearings throughout the state in November. The proposed permanent rules would also expand the ability of small-scale maple syrup producers to sell their product without a license.
Hearings are scheduled to be held in all corners of the state:
- Neillsville – Thursday, Nov. 11, 9 a.m.-noon, Clark County Courthouse, auditorium, 517 Court St.
- Viroqua – Friday, Nov. 12, 1-4 p.m., Vernon County Courthouse Annex, county board room, 400 Courthouse Square
- Altoona – Monday, Nov. 15, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Eau Claire County University of Wisconsin-Extension, 227 First St. W.
- Spooner – Tuesday, Nov. 16, 9 a.m.-noon, Spooner Agricultural Research Station, W6646 Hwy. 70
- Ashland – Wednesday, Nov. 17, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Northern Great Lakes Center, theater, 29270 County Hwy. G
- Rhinelander – Thursday, Nov. 18, 9 a.m.-noon, Oneida County UW-Extension, 3375 Airport Rd., #10
- Shawano – Friday, Nov. 19, 9 a.m.-noon, Shawano County Courthouse, 311 N. Main St.
- Fond du Lac – Monday, Nov. 22, 8:30-11:30 a.m., UW-Fond du Lac County, Administration/Extension Building, room AE 205/206, 400 University Drive
- Appleton – Monday, Nov. 22, 1-4 p.m., Outagamie County UW-Extension, room ABC, 3365 W. Brewster St.
- West Bend – Tuesday, Nov. 23, 9 a.m.-noon, Washington County Courthouse, room 1020, 432 E. Washington St.
- Jefferson – Tuesday, Nov. 23, 1:30-4:30 p.m., Jefferson County UW-Extension, room 8/9, 864 Collins Road
- Dodgeville – Wednesday, Nov. 24, 9 a.m.-noon, Iowa County UW-Extension, conference room, 222 N. Iowa St.