Food, Farm, and Service Resource Guide
Published by Extension and Blount County Farm City Committee, this guide lists produce, cottage food items, and agricultural service available in Blount County. Fill out and submit this form for a free listing. Listed products and services must comply with Alabama’s requirements as applicable, such as the Grower's Permit and the Cottage Food safety certification, both detailed below.
The Alabama Grower’s Permit grants growers the right to sell their produce — vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts, eggs, transplants, ornamentals — anywhere in Alabama and without owing sales tax.
- Go to any Extension office. Before leaving, check directions, hours, and contact info — especially for the Oneonta office, which recently moved and is tricky to find. Other options include Pell City, Birmingham, or any other Extension office.
- Bring your ID. You will also be asked for your name, address, phone number, email, and the crops you grow. The permit will be notarized while you are there.
- The permit is free and you’ll receive it immediately.
The permit applies to raw and unprocessed produce. For example, raw berries and cucumbers are covered; jams and pickles must adhere to cottage food law.
If you have questions about the permit, get in touch and we’ll find out and add the information here, since others may have the same question. Or, contact Angie Batemon at Blount County-Alabama Extension at 205-237-7711.
Cottage Food Law allows individuals to produce “non-potentially hazardous” foods in their homes and to sell directly to neighbors from their home or farm, vehicle, at events, and by delivery and mail order within the state. Commercially these are known as TCS foods. See below for lists of allowed and prohibited foods. There is no sales limit — the previous $20,000/year limit was removed by the 2021 update. To sell your product(s) under Cottage Food Law:
- Get your food safety certification by taking ANSI-accredited training and passing the exam. Both options are completely online. The certification is then valid for three years. Learn2Serve’s program costs $8 (try code train10off for 10% off) and takes two hours, according to their website. Extension’s course is being updated and was expected to be released in the second quarter of 2022.
- Prepare a label for each item. In at least 10 pt type, include the common or usual name of the food, name and address of the individual or business, ingredients in descending order, and “This product may contain allergens. This food is not inspected by the Department of Public Health.” See details from Extension and Pick Your Own.
- Get approval by sending the label and a copy of your food safety certification to the local county health department.
- Other requirements: If you grew the produce used in your jam or other cottage food, the item is exempt from sales tax. You do need a (free) Grower’s Permit. If your product contains less than 50% homegrown ingredients, sales tax may be required, and if you live within city limits, you may also need a business license [see p.9, section (3)(a); and a lawyer’s interpretation]. Also, your food just be verified by Extension if it is freeze-dried or dehydrated (to test water activity), or fermented or acidified (to test pH).
Allowed items under the 2021 update and according to Extension include most shelf-stable foods (without meat, cheese, etc.), such as breads and other bakery items; jams, jellies, fruit preserves, marmalade; candy; commercially-prepared dried and dehydrated herbs, herb mixes, spices, vegetables, or fruit; candied or roasted nuts; popcorn (candied, coated, flavored); roasted coffee; dried baking mixes; and chocolate- or caramel-covered fruit.
Other items are allowed with verification by Extension of water activity or pH: home dehydrated or dried herbs, herb mixes, tea leaves, vegetables or fruits, or fruit leathers (other than melon); fermented or preserved vegetables or fruit that do not result in the production of alcohol (e.g. pepper relish, chowchow, pickles, relishes, tomato or fruit salsas, kimchi, sauerkraut, pickled fruits) — with a pH lower than 4.6 (see p.10); fruit butters; infused vinegars containing GRAS ingredients; and nut butters. (See Pick Your Own's pH testing recommendations.)
Other foods cannot be sold under cottage food laws; these require a licensed commercial kitchen or facility (or production by another business, called a co-packer): baked goods with an ingredient that requires refrigeration (custard pies, danish with cream cheese filling, cakes with whipped topping); fruit or vegetable juices; milk products; cheeses; BBQ sauces; garlic in oil; meats in any form, canned fruits or vegetables or low-acid foods, and heat-processed canned foods.
Beekeepers are free from most legal requirements, and honey is exempt from sales tax when sold directly. Alabama Code 2-14-3 asks beekeepers to register beehives annually with the Department of Agriculture and Industries, for a minimal fee, and products sold as or labeled as 'honey' must be pure honey, per ADAI's Direct Market Guidelines.
Poultry & Eggs
Our understanding is that our community's small scale egg and meat bird producers are exempt from Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries' requirements. Specifically, if you sell only your own hens' eggs (whether shell eggs or hatching eggs), you are exempt from ADAI's labeling, refrigeration, and grading requirements. If you process fewer than 1,000 birds per year are exempt from inspection. The requirements are that the poultry is healthy when slaughtered, the conditions are sanitary, and the product is identified as exempt product and labeled.
Livestock & Meat
Live farm animals are exempt from sales tax requirements. Meat offered for sale must be from animals slaughtered in a federal- or state-inspected facility and processed by a USDA-certified processor, according to Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries. See Title 2 for more regulations.
There appear to be no restrictions on sharing or bartering raw milk from your cows or goats. Selling is trickier. We see two routes being used in Alabama:
- Sell a share in your animal or herd. In this version, the customer is an owner and is receiving the benefit of his own property. According to farmtoconsumer.org, Alabama has no law governing herd shares and has taken no action to stop them. See also Alabama Direct Farm Business Guide, p.94.
- Obtain a Commercial Feeds Distribution License, which requires labeling the milk as for animal consumption only. According to Pam Stephenson of One Accord Farm in Arab, Alabama, annual requirements for the license include two forms, a $90 fee, the label, and milk analysis.