INDIANAPOLIS — As the farmers’ market season opens, Indiana legislation has made it easier for door-to-door sellers to sell their wares. House Bill 1149 became law after Governor Eric Holcomb signed it into law on March 8.
Rep. Don Lehe, R-Brookston, authored HB1149, which made changes to how an individual can sell groceries.
Lehe says the big change responds to the desire of many door-to-door sellers to sell online and over the phone. “It’s just an opportunity for them to expand their business,” Lehe said. Before the adoption of HB 1149, they could only sell directly.
“The demand increases every year. There is more and more demand for what we call country food, people actually want to buy food,” he said. “For producers, it’s an opportunity to expand their business.
Regarding the safety of consumers who receive the products, sellers are subject to inspection. They have some of the same requirements as a restaurant. For example, if they’re selling poultry or rabbits “at a farmer’s market, online, or directly from the farm, they should be refrigerated to help verify safety,” Lehe said.
Jeff Cummins, who is on the Indiana Farm Bureau’s public policy team, helped pass the legislation.
“Indiana Farm Bureau members added support for door-to-door sellers to our policy book a few years ago, and our board has since made it a priority to serve our smaller, more diverse members. “, said Cummins.
Cummins and his group have worked with Lehe to create more opportunities for those who manufacture, grow or raise a food product from home.
“Data from the Institute for Justice show that the average door-to-door salesperson is a rural woman earning about $2,000 a year. And while that’s not a huge sum, it can be a significant addition to a household. So ultimately, we see the expansion of door-to-door seller opportunities as an expansion of economic opportunity in both urban and rural areas of our state,” Cummins said.
Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, is a co-sponsor of the bill. Clere has a long history of involvement in issues concerning door-to-door sellers, dating back to his involvement in the development of New Albany’s Main Street. When Clere was on the board of Develop New Albany, he helped run the New Albany Farmers’ Market, which included many door-to-door vendors, he said.
“I have always worked to support them and create more opportunities for them. HB 1149 creates many new opportunities for door-to-door sellers while continuing to protect the public,” he said. “It doesn’t change what door-to-door sellers can sell rather than just where they can sell, both physically and online.”
Clere said door-to-door sellers have so far been limited to selling at farmers’ markets and roadsides. “It will allow them to sell in countless additional physical locations and online,” he said.
Nearly 2,000 Hoosiers sell their wares. Indiana also has nearly 200 farmers’ markets. To find one go to https://www.indianagrown.org/farmers-market/