Nicolet Law Office, S.C.

Federal judge churns out ruling in favor of Wisconsin butter law

Ohio, don’t be salty – the Dairy State is just picky about its butter.

It’s a long running joke that people in Wisconsin love their dairy, but a recent court case shows that joke may be rooted in truth. A recent lawsuit highlights a Wisconsin law that shows just how serious the state is about its milk products.

All butter sold in Wisconsin stores must be state or federally graded for quality. When a state inspector discovered that ungraded butter from Minerva Dairy, an Ohio company, was being sold in Wisconsin, the company was ordered to comply with the law or get off the shelves. Minerva sued the state of Wisconsin, arguing that the law was discriminatory and violated the company’s rights.

The federal judge dismissed the company’s lawsuit and upheld the state law, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. “The state may require grade labels on retail butter packages so that consumers could purchase butter with confidence in its quality,” he wrote. 

The company’s lawyer said they plan to appeal the decision in the Seventh Circuit. But if the past is any indication, it won’t be easy. If this story sounds familiar, you may remember a similar dispute last year over the popular Irish brand Kerrygold.

Who does the law serve?

The judge wrote that the law is “is rationally related to Wisconsin’s legitimate interest in helping its citizens make informed butter purchases.” However, not everyone agrees that the law is there to help consumers.

"The dairy industry has a stranglehold on our legislators," one Wisconsin Kerrygold fan told the Chicago Tribune last year.

For now, don’t expect to find any ungraded butter on the table at the supper club. Minerva and Kerrygold continue to be available in other states – so if you have a hankering for artisanal butter, it may be time to plan a trip across the border.

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