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. This is thanks to an antiquated law in her dairy-obsessed state. It bans it and any other butter that hasn't been graded for quality.
 
"We bring back 20 bricks or so," Smith said. She noted that 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. They are challenging the law. They say 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." Its color must be "mottled," "streaked" or "speckled."
 
Anybody convicted of selling unlabeled or ungraded butter is subject to a fine between $100 and $1,000. Violators could receive six months in jail.
 
Wisconsin is the only state in the nation with such a stringent butter provision. The lawsuit argues that it amounts to an unconstitutional "government-mandated 'taste test.'" The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, a conservative legal group representing the plaintiffs. The group 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. He said his consumer-protection agency has to uphold state law. But he 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. The company 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 frustrated residents. 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 (11)
  • maddiem3-har
    4/06/2017 - 09:01 p.m.

    Wisconsin is so into butter because it has historically been known as '' the dairy state". People all over Wisconsin love butter and even go to the extent to put it into their tea! The government in Wisconsin historically has controlled butter sales and production based on old laws. The butter is judged on its texture, creaminess, etc.

  • jacquelynt-
    4/07/2017 - 08:34 a.m.

    Maybe they like to bake a lot and they want a specific butter for making baked goods.

  • kimberlyc-
    4/07/2017 - 08:39 a.m.

    Wisconsin is so into butter because they like that some are grass-fed and hormone-free cows.Also they like the flavor and how creamy it is.

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

    because they are like the rest of America and are enjoying the salt and saturated fat in the butter. The land in Wisconsin is suitable for cattle,so it would make the most sense for that state to make and enjoy butter.

  • hcicily-dav
    4/17/2017 - 05:30 p.m.

    In response to "Butter ban sparks fight in butter-loving Wisconsin", I do not think it is right that they banned butter. Wisconsin is a dairy state and they are known for their cheese and butter and milk and other dairy products. But people suddenly banned butter so people are protected from violators that make butter with hormones and don't get permission or don't have it graded. Now people have to buy their butter in different states since they can't buy butter in Wisconsin now. "Wisconsin resident Jean Smith snatches up entire stocks of her beloved Kerrygold Irish butter from stores when visiting family in Nebraska." In conclusion I think that having this new law is awful since people use butter for a lot of things and now it will be hard to get in Wisconsin.

  • nylao-orv
    4/19/2017 - 11:40 a.m.


    Wisconsin is so into butter because it has historically been known as '' the dairy state".

  • rmichael-dav
    4/20/2017 - 06:13 p.m.

    In response to "Butter ban sparks fight in butter-loving Wisconsin," I agree that the butter ban is a bad idea. One reason I agree is that it is used in a lot of mixtures. Another reason is that it is a dairy obsessed state. It says in the article "dairy-obsessed state." A third reason is it is used in everyday life. "she plops a tablespoon of the Ireland-made butter into her tea each morning." Even though people think it is just butter, I think butter in Wisconsin is important because it is used in a lot of mixtures, it is a dairy obsessed state,and it is used in everyday life.

  • oliviag-ver
    4/21/2017 - 09:12 a.m.

    I think it's reasonable to ban butter that hasn't been checked because it could be unsafe to consume so Wisconsin is just staying safe. I do understand why people would be upset that a certain brand is banned but I think it's unreasonable to file a lawsuit because of it.

  • emilih-bla
    4/28/2017 - 10:38 a.m.

    Wisconsin is so into butter because it is a "dairy-obsessed state" the text states. Wisconsin is obviously a butter loving state if they go as far as putting butter in their tea. They also care a lot about how butter taste because if they did not then they would not have such a big deal and people taste testing it to see if its creamy or crumbly. I think that they should not have a butter ban law because although it could maybe be healthier people might like their butter different then the people taste testing it.

  • karas-bla
    4/30/2017 - 07:53 p.m.

    Wisconsin is so into butter because they are known as "the dairy state". Wisconsin wants to make sure that their consumers receive the best quality product. The butter is judged on creaminess,body, and texture. If the judges do not approve of the product, the producers will have to pay up to one-thousand dollars or be in jail for up to six months. Now there is even a lawsuit being filed because people realized that there is a law about consumer productivity and the state may be not telling everything about this law.

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