(The Center Square) — Georgia lawmakers have introduced legislation they say would allow “microenterprise operations” and home-based businesses to work out of home kitchens and in compliance with state law.
House Bill 583 would give the state’s agriculture commissioner the power to license and regulate home-based food businesses, allowing them to sell homemade foods directly.
“Selling jams, bread, baked goods, and other homemade food items is an easy way for an entrepreneur to start their first business or a stay-at-home mom to earn supplemental income during this time of record inflation,” Americans for Prosperity-Georgia Deputy State Director Tony West said in a statement. “Parts of current regulations are arbitrary and make it more difficult for these small business start-ups to grow and succeed.”
Meanwhile, another measure, HB 287, the Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations Act, would allow non-commercial kitchens in private homes where ready-to-eat food is prepared or offered for on- or off-premises consumption.
“HB 287 embodies two of Georgia’s biggest strengths,” state Rep. Mandisha A. Thomas, D-South Fulton, said in a news release. “As the number one state to do business and with agriculture as our top industry, this regulatory framework could help home chefs earn a livable income while providing Georgians in food desserts access to food grown by local farmers.”
The measure would give the Georgia Department of Public Health the authority to issue permits and create regulations for home kitchens. Under HB 287, business owners would pay for the public health department to conduct annual inspections.
Operators located on farms could sell their food on and off the premises.
“Georgia House Bill 287 will allow people to prepare and sell out of their homes 30 ‘ready-to-eat’ meals a day with 25 percent of ingredients sourced locally from farms,” Beth M. Graham, founder and CEO of Humanaty Farm to Table, said in an announcement.
According to a news release, the Georgia Department of Agriculture operates a similar program, the Cottage Food License Program, which allows home kitchens to produce select items, including jams, jellies and cakes, to sell at events or online. However, the program bars operations from making foods they cannot safely keep at room temperature.
In 2021, Utah lawmakers passed similar legislation, according to a news release.
By T.A. DeFeo | The Center Square contributor