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Food Ventures

University of Wyoming Extension

Wyoming is a great place to test out a food venture – it is full of curious potential customers, supportive economic developers, and a permissive legal environment. For instance, passage of the Wyoming Food Freedom Act by the Wyoming State Legislature in 2015 created the opportunity to develop value-added specialty crop businesses that had previously been prohibited. The act has essentially created two tracks for food processors to choose from: (1) ‘inspected’ processors, who can sell to consumers as well as restaurants, wholesalers, and retailers and also ship products across state lines; and (2) ‘food freedom’ processors, who are not required to process in inspected facilities and are limited to sales directly to an informed end consumer, a person who is the last to purchase any product, who does not resell the product, and who has been informed that the product was not produced in a licensed, regulated, or inspected facility.

Whether you’re thinking of selling raw produce from a market garden or community supported ag venture, or processing food from home or in an inspected kitchen, give your local Extension office a call, and we can help you explore the options and find the right advisor. In the meantime, here are resources for exploring your food venture.

If your questions are about regulations and support, our UW Extension publication “Food Ventures in Wyoming: A Resource and Regulatory Guide for Specialty Crops” from 2018 is worth a look.

Relevant Agencies

  • Wyoming Department of Agriculture, Consumer Health Services Division oversees the safety of the state’s food supply. Consumer Health Services is also responsible for environmental health duties including swimming pool inspection, assisting with drinking water safety, assisting communities with nuisance complaints, etc. wyagric.state.wy.us/divisions/chs
  • Wyoming Department of Revenue administers and collects mineral and excise taxes, oversees the valuation of property and wholesale distribution of alcohol beverages, and enforces liquor control laws. revenue.wyo.gov
  • Wyoming Farmers Marketing Association works to promote farmers’ markets across Wyoming, where finding fresh, locally grown produce can be a luxury. www.wyomingfarmersmarkets.org
  • Wyoming Business Council functions as the economic development agency of the State of Wyoming. It helps entrepreneurs develop business plans, identify problems, find capital, brainstorm strategies, and propel their businesses to a profitable future. www.wyomingbusiness.org
  • Wyoming Business Council’s Agriculture and Food Products division offers a variety of programs focused on reaching new markets and adding value to products. wyomingbusiness.org/ag-food
  • Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office is the place to register a business entity. soswy.state.wy.us
  • Wyoming Women’s Business Center offers current and prospective women business owners in Wyoming the business assistance they need, including access to business counseling, capital, microloans, and training, technical assistance, and networking opportunities. www.wyomingwomen.org
  • Wyoming Farm to School connects Wyoming schools, producers, and other interested participants with resources for building successful farm to school programs. edu.wyoming.gov/beyond-the-classroom/nutrition/farm-to-school
  • Wyoming Farm Service Agency provides program to support agricultural producers, including lending and loan guarantees. www.fsa.usda.gov/state-offices/Wyoming/index
  • Farm Credit Services of America is a lender focused on rural ventures and rural housing. www.farmcredit.com/state/Wyoming
  • RightRisk is an effort to help decision-makers throughout the world discover innovative and effective risk management solutions. It provides numerous self-study courses. http://RightRisk.org
  • University of Wyoming, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources www.uwyo.edu/uwag

    The departments and programs of the UW College of Agriculture and Natural Resources primarily teach undergraduate and graduate students, but they also provide a home for efforts and individuals who can provide insight on new ventures.

  • Wyoming SBDC www.uwyo.edu/sbdc
    America’s SBDC is a nationwide network of Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), providing assistance to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs throughout the United States and its territories. The Wyoming Small Business Development Center Networkconsists of multiple offices throughout the state with business consultants who provide basic business education through consulting, classes and webinars, publications, web services, and referrals to related agencies. It is a partnership between the University of Wyoming, Wyoming Business Council, and U.S. Small Business Administration.
     
  • Other Resources
    • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s How to Start a Food Business is a guide for food entrepreneurs. www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Industry/ucm322302.htm
    • The Produce Safety Alliance provides training and resources on the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu
    • The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has a summary of FSMA rules at sustainableagriculture.net/blog/produce-rule-analysis-part-1
    • The National Agricultural Law Center has numerous resources, including An Overview of Organizational and Ownership Options Available to Agricultural Enterprises. nationalaglawcenter.org
    • The IRS provides information about how federal tax laws apply to farming in the Farmer’s Tax Guide at www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-publication-225. For more information on federal farm tax management, see the Small Farm Tax Guide, available at www.ruraltax.org/small-farm-tax-guide.
    • The S. Small Business Administration provides comprehensive information about government programs that help new and existing agricultural businesses start, expand, obtain financing, and comply with laws and regulations. www.sba.gov/content/agriculture
    • A publication intended to help producers sell into wholesale markets is Wholesale Success: A Farmer’s Guide to Food Safety, Selling, Postharvest Handling, and Packing Produce, fifth edition, edited by Jim Slama and Atina Diffley. Click on the ‘Publications’ link on the top of the main webpage at FamilyFarmed.org
    • Food Safety News is media organization that covers topics ranging from policy and politics to foodborne illness outbreaks to sustainability, science, and research. foodsafetynews.com
    • Farm Commons is a nonprofit that provides free legal education resources on topics including managing food safety liability risk, farm employment law, contracts and sales agreements, recreational activities on farms, and adding value to farm products. farmcommons.org
    • The Western Extension Committee (a group of Extension personnel from the 13 Western states) has publications on managing ventures. farmmanagement.org/
      • Ag Help Wanted: Guidelines for Managing Agricultural Labor
      • Niche Markets: Assessment and Strategy Development for Agriculture
      • Certification and Labeling Considerations for Agricultural Producers
      • Western Profiles of Innovative Agricultural Marketing: Examples from Direct Farm Marketing and Agri-Tourism Enterprises
      • Western Risk Management Library

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