Wisconsinites who enjoy Kellygold Irish butter have been forced to venture across state lines to buy the gold foil packaged dairy goodness.

Butter protectionism in the Dairy State has made this foreign butter illegal.

An obscure regulation turns “ungraded butter” into contraband. Since Kerrygold isn’t produced in the good ole U.S. of A., it’s not graded and hence, illegal. Selling illicit butter bears a fine up to $1,000 and a possible six-month stint in the slammer.

If you haven’t tasted Kerrygold, I can assure you it is definitely worth the drive across state lines. It’s pricey, but worth every penny.

Wisconsin local news reports:

The issue here is an obscure state law from the 1970s that requires all butter sold in Wisconsin to be tested by a panel of experts and issued a letter grade for quality.

As a butter made in Ireland, Kerrygold is not graded in the U.S.

Lisa Miller is the marketing director for Ornua North America, the Irish dairy co-operative that markets Kerrygold butter in every U.S. state except Wisconsin.

She said the company had no idea selling Kerrygold in Wisconsin was illegal until the state began contacting distributors about the law.

“Our process of inspecting is a little bit different from the process here, the standards are universally very high,” Miller said.

For Wisconsin, not high enough.

State statute spends pages detailing the steps needed to sell butter, and the 32 different quality points on which it needs to be judged.

Violating the butter law can result in fines upward of $1,000, or jail terms of six months.

People like Jean Smith wonder what that law is really doing — shielding shoppers from inferior butter or fending off foreign competitors from Wisconsin’s dairy industry.

“I feel suspicious. Who are you really trying to protect here? Are you protecting the consumers, are you protecting Wisconsin dairies?” Smith asked.

A spokesperson for the Dairy Business Association, an industry lobbying group, did not return our request for comment.

The state agency enforcing this law would only say what we already know.

A representative of the Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection said Kerrygold is making a conscious effort to follow the state law and adapt to Wisconsin requirements.

A spokeswoman for Kerrygold said they’re looking at ways to comply with Wisconsin’s ridiculous labeling requirements.

Were I Kerrygold, I’d tell the Wisconsin Dept. of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection where they could shove their crony regulations. But that’s probably why I don’t work in public relations.

Follow Kemberlee on Twitter @kemberleekaye