Irish butter is coming to Wisconsin, but the law forbidding it still stands

AP and WiG reports

Wisconsin residents who love Irish butter will soon be able to buy it in America’s Dairyland, thanks to a creamery’s workaround to a 1953 state law.

Old World Creamery of Sheboygan announced March 6 that it would import Irishgold butter, process and package it — then have the company’s five state-licensed butter graders rate it. That will allow the butter to be sold legally in Wisconsin, which bans the sale of any butter that hasn’t been graded for quality.

Residents tired of crossing state lines to load up on Irish butter filed a lawsuit last month against the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Department spokesman Bill Cosh said his agency has to uphold state law. But, he added, enforcement “has been limited to notifying retailers of what the law says.”

Irish butter does sometimes appear on grocery store shelves around the state.

The law is the only one of its kind in the nation.

“This will be a big day for Wisconsin residents who love the rich taste of Irish butter,” Steve Knaus, Old World Creamery’s managing partner, said in a news release announcing the workaround. Knaus said the company will import the butter in bulk and grade it both before and after packaging. He said the plan was in the works before the lawsuit was filed.

The plaintiffs’ attorney Jake Curtis is with the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. The conservative legal group says the issue is one of economic liberty, not consumer safety.

“Only in Wisconsin,” Curtis said.

While he applauded Old World’s efforts, he said that his clients would press forward with their lawsuit. He called the ban “irrational” and said it inhibits access to all international butters.

Better butter

Irish butter comes mostly from grass-fed cows and is said to have superior health benefits. Grazing animals have from 3 to 5 times more CLA than animals fed grain in feedlots. Butter from grass-fed cows also contains more vitamins E, A, and beta-carotene. Dairy products from grass-fed cows also provide K2, a rare vitamin that helps prevent calcium buildup in consumers’ arteries.

The Japanese have approved vitamin K2 as a treatment for osteoporosis, saying it reduces the occurrence of new bone fractures and helps maintain bone density mass.

Wisconsinites are accustomed to dairy protectionism taking legal precedence over their rights as consumers. For years, margarine was banned from sale in the state.

Even today, margarine may not be substituted for butter in restaurants unless requested by the customer, and state law forbids butter substitutes to be served in state prisons.

Irishgold  will be available at Woodman’s locations in Altoona, Appleton, Beloit, Green Bay, Janesville, Kenosha, Madison, Menomonee Falls, Oak Creek, Onalaska, Sun Prairie and Waukesha.

Kick-off at Woodman’s

A kick-off event will be held at the Woodman’s Market in Sun Prairie, 1099 S. Grand Ave., on Tuesday, April 11 at 9 a.m