Butter ban sparks fight in butter-loving Wisconsin A supply of Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter sits amidst other butters on a store shelf Friday, March 17, 2017 in Edina, Minn. A handful of Wisconsin residents has filed a lawsuit challenging a 1953 state law that bans the sale of Kerrygold Irish butter, or any other butter that hasn't been graded for quality. (AP Photo/Jim Mone/Larry Avila/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)
Butter ban sparks fight in butter-loving Wisconsin
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Wisconsin resident Jean Smith snatches up entire stocks of her beloved Kerrygold Irish butter from stores when visiting family in Nebraska, thanks to an antiquated law in her dairy-obsessed state that bans it and any other butter that hasn't been graded for quality.
 
"We bring back 20 bricks or so," Smith said, noting she plops a tablespoon of the Ireland-made butter into her tea each morning. "It's creamier, it doesn't have any waxy taste and it's a richer yellow."
 
Tired of trekking across state lines to stock up, she and a handful of other Wisconsin butter aficionados have filed a lawsuit challenging the law, saying local consumers and businesses "are more than capable of determining whether butter is sufficiently creamy, properly salted, or too crumbly." No government help needed, they say.
 
On the books since 1953, the law is strict: It requires butters to be rated on various measures - including flavor, body and color - by the federal government or people licensed as butter and cheese graders with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
 
Wisconsin's grading scale dictates that the highest-graded butter must "possess a fine and highly pleasing butter flavor." Graders might describe a butter as "crumbly," "gummy" or "sticky," and its color as "mottled," "streaked" or "speckled."
 
Anybody convicted of selling unlabeled or ungraded butter is subject to a fine between $100 and $1,000 and six months in jail.
 
Wisconsin is the only state in the nation with such a stringent butter provision, which the lawsuit argues amounts to an unconstitutional "government-mandated 'taste test.'" The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, a conservative legal group representing the plaintiffs, said the grading process is subjective and doesn't protect consumers. The real issue, the group argues, is personal freedom.
 
Institute attorney Jake Curtis acknowledged it's a light-hearted case, "but economic liberty is a civil right."
 
Department spokesman Bill Cosh released a statement saying his consumer-protection agency has to uphold state law, but noted that enforcement "has been limited to notifying retailers of what the law says."
 
Ornua, the company that markets Kerrygold, isn't part of the lawsuit and declined to comment on the case. The Wisconsin Dairy Products Association didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.
 
Curtis said he's also heard from residents frustrated they can't buy their favorite Danish and Icelandic varieties near home. Smith said Kerrygold butter, which uses milk from grass-fed and hormone-free cows, occasionally shows up in stores near her home in Waukesha, but its availability is unpredictable.
 
"If I couldn't get Kerrygold, I would use the other butter," Smith said. "It just doesn't taste as good."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is Wisconsin so into butter?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (38)
  • jahir-orv
    4/06/2017 - 02:20 p.m.

    Wisconsin is probably in to butter because of the same reason it is into cheese. Wisconsin is into cheese a lot. Butter is basically cheese only in a different form.

  • Adrian-mar1
    4/06/2017 - 04:14 p.m.

    In Wisconsin, butter is a big thing over there and there are law on how selling the wrong kind of butter can take you to jail. There people who taste test the butter to see if it good or not. There are two types of butter that is not for sale

  • Jaden-mar2
    4/06/2017 - 04:31 p.m.

    C- kerrygold Curtis Bill Cosh

    P- in the story they didn't provide the packing of the type of butter

    R- they made these types of butter to sell to the public

  • Amaris-mar1
    4/06/2017 - 04:31 p.m.

    C- Kerrygold Curtis Bill cosh

    P- in the story they didn't provide what kind of packing of the type of butter they had

    R- they made these types of butter to sell to the community

  • Karla-mar1
    4/06/2017 - 05:16 p.m.

    I think that the State of Wisconsin should not be so strict on the subject of butter. But Jean Smith should not consume so much butter because for some reason the state of Wisconsin forbids it or is so strict on the subject of butter. The problem in this situation is that some consumers, well most people like the butter that they do not allow to carry or transport to that state, for some reason the state does not let consume this product may be unhealthy. The solution to this problem would be for consumers to consume the allowed butter and not get "illegal" butter. If consumers continue to consume butter not allowed they will have to pay a fine ranging from $ 100 dollars to $ 1000 dollars.

  • Jovanna-mar1
    4/06/2017 - 05:28 p.m.

    sertent people like butter and some of the other people like onotrher one and they have to transported but if they cauth them they will need to pay 100 or 10,000 transported butter whit bloks.in a contry they will only like butter that is puffy

  • Angelina-mar
    4/06/2017 - 06:44 p.m.

    Everytime Jean Smith visits her family in Nebraska.she always takes this irish kerrygold butter back home to Wisconsin,because Wisconsin dosent allow the butter.Jean Smith and other people who have the same feelings as her about the butter.would as far as to fill out a lawsuit challenging the law.This however didnt work out and was denied,so people cant buy kerrygold butter in Wisconsin.

  • Lezti-mar
    4/06/2017 - 06:46 p.m.

    Kerrygold is a kind of butter sold in the state of Wisconsin.There is law which says the butter sold there has to have good flavor and color , if it is not there will be a fine and you could spend about six months in jail.

  • Itzel-mar1
    4/06/2017 - 07:10 p.m.

    Jean smith uses her butter tablespoon to put it each morning on her tea. People are unable to buy Their favorite Danish and Icelandic vatieties near jome. Anybody convicted of selling unlabeled or ungraded butter is subject to pay a fine of $100 to $1,000

  • Lucero-mar
    4/06/2017 - 08:18 p.m.

    In the state of Wisconsin, residents are not satisfied with their "dairy obsessed" state. This meaning that their state bans any type of butter that is not graded for quality. As an effect, people haven filed a lawsuit before, which challenges the law.

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