Locals in Wisconsin in the US are taking action against the state following a ban on Kerrygold butter.

Under Wisconsin law, retail butter for sale in Wisconsin must bear either a Wisconsin or federal grade mark. While this was not enforced in the past, local authorities have recently revived the grading obligation.

As Kerrygold butter is graded, produced and packaged in Ireland, it meant it was excluded last month when the law became more strictly enforced.

Tired of crossing states lines to get the “creamy contraband”, four local people, namely Jean Smith, Amber Marzahl, Nicole Batzel and Kathleen McGlone, along with Slow Pokes Local Foods, have filed a lawsuit against the state “to preserve the freedom to buy and sell whatever type of butter one wishes to”.

In a statement, the group said: “The butter law has prevented Wisconsin grocery stores from legally selling certain brands of butter. One example is the incredibly popular Kerrygold butter, made in Ireland.”

High-quality Irish import

Wisconsin, which is known as the dairy capital of the US, is the only state with specific butter labelling requirements.

Those who sell butter in Wisconsin without the proper label face up to one year in a county jail, up to $5,000 in fines, and a permanent injunction against future butter sales.

“This archaic labelling regime prevents Wisconsin residents from enjoying very popular butters such as Kerrygold, a high-quality Irish import.”

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty filed the lawsuit on behalf of the four consumers and Slow Pokes Local Foods at Ozaukee County Circuit Court.

Impeding on economic freedom

Associate Counsel Jake Curtis said: “The protectionist labelling requirements of the butter law in no way relate to health or safety concerns and therefore the state of Wisconsin has no rational basis for impeding the economic freedom of Wisconsin consumers and businesses.

“We have all the confidence in the world that Wisconsin’s butter producers can compete with the likes of Kerrygold. But in order for the state of Wisconsin to continue its upward climb, we cannot remain in the business of erecting, or in this case preserving, artificial barriers to product entry.”

Ornua is not involved in the lawsuit and told the Irish Farmers Journal: “We are not a party to the case. We are working separately with the authorities on a solution which will enable consumers throughout the state enjoy the great taste of Kerrygold butter.”

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