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
Lexile

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."

Filed Under:  
Assigned 64 times
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is Wisconsin so into butter?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (38)
  • Roxanna-mar
    4/06/2017 - 09:43 p.m.

    The kerrygolo butter hasn't been upgraded. Graders describe if the butter Is crumbly or gummy etc and. In winsconstin is the only state that has a butter provision and a lawsuit agrees that the government has a taste test.

  • Amia-mar1
    4/06/2017 - 09:45 p.m.

    Wisconsin makes the butter for all around the world ,which for the people in the state are so into it and have a strict law about remaking it because it is too valuable for them

  • Priscilla-mar1
    4/06/2017 - 10:33 p.m.

    Jean smith,who is a resident of wisconsin,has to go a long way to get butter for other residents of Wisconsin. Wisconsin has a law about butter,which is that butter requires to be rated on various measures - including flavor, body and color. Jean smith had filed a lawsuit on the law of butter because people wanted their butter but they could hardly find it anywhere. Smith said that if she couldn't get the butter she wanted she would use a different kind but it doesn't taste as good.

  • Daijzia-mar
    4/06/2017 - 11:00 p.m.

    Jean Smith is visiting her family, while she's at the store she gets the butter she loves. Where she lives butter is ban, so she brings about 20 'bricks' or so. She was getting tired of going across the state to just get butter, so she filed a lawsuit and a few butter brands. Law said it required flavor,body and color of you sell butter unlabeled butter or if it's not graded you get s $100 to $1,000 and six moths in jail. The groups mostly argues is there personal freedom. They fix it a little bit, but now you just can't get Dnaishnas Icelandic near homes. She would you use the other butter only if she can't get the one she likes, but it just won't test good like the other one

  • Jorge-mar3
    4/07/2017 - 07:51 a.m.

    This article is about Jean Smith and her fellow supporter who filed a lawsuit against butter corporation.They filed this lawsuit,because the butter was made with rich texture,flavor,or rich color.And because it would seem unconstitutional,they had to win this.Now their is a fine placed to prevent this.Since this law came up the business had to put up with these new changes.

  • JacobM-mar1
    4/07/2017 - 08:13 a.m.

    in summary,
    jean smith likes pure irish, but when she went to find more at other stores, she couldn't stock up on any of it. she filed a law suit, challenging the law, saying that consumers can tell whats is wrong with butter. Since 1953 the law has been strict. They used federal government or licensed butter and cheese graders to test the butter.

  • Vasti-mar1
    4/07/2017 - 10:34 a.m.

    Wisconsin citizens aren't able to buy butter because the butter has to be certified.So Wisconsin citizens take a stand.

  • Nicholas-mar3
    4/07/2017 - 01:07 p.m.

    jean smith says butter is something "good" and talks about how some butter is banned and this is solved by having irish butter

  • Manuel-mar1
    4/07/2017 - 01:45 p.m.

    they are into butter because its like their tradition of eating the supposedly good liquid so they put butter in everything they make and it tastes good to them

  • Diego-mar1
    4/07/2017 - 01:51 p.m.

    Jean Smith is a resident of Wisconsin. This article tell us how different people use different butter in their life. From the morning to the end of the day. It also shows us how new butter is graded and what are the outcome of not grading it first. This is why some types of butter are not allowed in some places.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT