Butter lawsuit heading to Ozaukee County courtroom next week


The
suit filed March 16 by four Wisconsin residents —
including Grafton’s Kathleen McGlone, owner of Slow
Pokes Local Food — is against Wisconsin Department of
Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Ben
Brancel, in his official capacity.

The
law requires a brand of butter may only be legally sold
in the state of Wisconsin if it has been graded by a
state-licensed taster based on 35 characteristics
pertaining to flavor, aroma, appearance and texture, and
the package marked with that grade. The statute makes no
reference to safety or health.

Jake
Curtis, a lawyer for the Wisconsin Institute for Law &
Liberty, who is representing the plaintiffs in the
lawsuit, has called the law protectionist. He said that
requiring a Wisconsin test, grade and label promotes
Wisconsin brands, which can easily attain the required
grading, while creating an unreasonable hurdle for
nonlocal butter makers.

The
lawsuit was triggered by prohibition of the sale of
Kerrygold, an Irish butter. McGlone had sold the butter
at Slow Pokes for years, until she was informed she
could be punished for it with heavy fines; the law has
long been on the books, but went years without active
enforcement until about two years ago, according to
Curtis.

The
other three plaintiffs are consumer who prefer Kerrygold.
They argue they now have to stock up the bands with
out-of-state trips.

In
May, the defense filed a motion to dismiss two of the
three claims, making no argument pertaining to the
third. WILL filed a brief opposing the motion July 26.
The hearing is set for 11 a.m. Aug. 15 at the Ozaukee
County Justice Center. Judge Paul Malloy will hear the
case.

WILL
argues the butter law, limiting options of butter sales
based solely on a subjective opinion of taste that must
be printed on butter packaging, violates the state
constitution in three ways:

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