Smith v. Wisconsin

Case Name: Jean Smith, et al. v. Ben Brancel, Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection

Type of Case: Economic Liberty

Court: Ozaukee County Circuit Court

Case Number: 2017-CV-120

Filed On: March 16, 2017

Current Status: Case voluntarily dismissed

A 1953 Wisconsin law requires all butter sold in the State be sampled by government-licensed “butter tasters.”  Once tasted, butter is issued a grade and then labeled during the packaging process.  Wisconsin is the only state in the union to impose such a labeling requirement.  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.

As highlighted by media accounts – locally, nationally, and even internationally – 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.  Kerrygold claims to produce the “sweetest, richest milk in the world, which makes our grass-fed cow’s milk Irish butter taste silky and creamy and glow a healthy, golden yellow.”

On behalf of consumers who wish to purchase the butter and a retailer who wishes to sell it, WILL filed a lawsuit in Ozaukee County to challenge the law prohibiting its sale.  After we filed suit, Kerrygold took steps to obtain grading for its butter, effectively mooting our case.

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