A butter made in Ireland tastes so good that it has some Wisconsin residents crossing state lines just to get their hands on as many packages as they can keep in their fridge. They have to do this because the state of Wisconsin — along among the fifty United States — has made this butter illegal, using a regulation some argue is intended to benefit the state's gigantic dairy lobby.
Kerrygold Irish butter, which comes from grass-fed cows free of growth hormones, is a kitchen staple for many butter connoisseurs who will swear the difference between Kerrygold and other butter is unmistakable. It is currently sold in every state nationwide — except the dairy capital of the United States.
An outdated Wisconsin state law from the 1970s requires all butter sold in the state to be tested by a panel of experts and graded for quality. In fact, the state law requires that all butter sold in Wisconsin be tested on 32 different points and given a letter grade in each category. Even though Kerrygold is tested in its home country of Ireland, and even though it has been sold for years in the United States without a single notable safety issue, it isn't graded in the United States, and thus can't be sold in Wisconsin.
Not even Kerrygold's parent company, Ornua North America, knew about the obscure law until their distributors were contacted by the state about the apparently illegal activity. And although it isn't graded in the state, Ornua marketing director Lisa Miller said the standards by which Kerrygold is inspected should be high enough to accept. "Our process of inspecting is a little bit different from the process here, the standards are universally very high," Miller said.
Even so, violating the law could result in $1,000 or more in fines and even six months jail time for those who sell Kerrygold butter.
Wisconsin resident Jean Smith told WTMJ-TV she wonders who the law is protecting: consumers or the state's large dairy industry. "I feel suspicious. Who are you really trying to protect here? Are you protecting the consumers, are you protecting Wisconsin dairies," she said.
Miller said Kerrygold is working on a solution to bring their product back to Wisconsin. The Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection confirmed Kerrygold's effort to adapt to Wisconsin requirements and state law.
Industry lobbyist group Dairy Business Association's Director of Public Relations Jamie Mara told TheBlaze in an email, "This particular law is not a priority for our association."