Mary Lou Wesselhoeft and her husband Paul have been battling the State of Florida since back in 2012 when the state told them to either inject their skim milk with vitamins or call it “imitation” milk. That never did set well with the Wesselhoefts who eventually quit producing their popular skim milk rather than label it “imitation”.
In December of 2014, Mrs. Wesselhoeft appeared on the popular “Fox and Friends” morning news show. She told the anchor in her interview, “Our customers were very happy, they couldn’t believe it wasn’t skim milk, and then all of a sudden one day the state comes in and says, ‘You may no longer sell your skim milk unless you put the vitamin A in it.’ We want it to be just plain, natural milk,” she explained.
The farm continued to milk their cows everyday only to dump it down the drain but would not give up on something they felt so strongly about.
In early 2016, the Wesselhoefts filed a First Amendment lawsuit against Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam H. Putnam and Gary Newton, Chief of the Florida Bureau of Dairy Industry. In March 2016, a judge agreed with the state of Florida that the all-natural creamery can’t call its product skim milk without adding the vitamins or calling it “imitation”. The Institute of Justice assisting Ocheesee
Creamery, planned to appeal the decision to a higher court.
In January of this year, the Wesselhoeft’s case was finally heard by a federal appeals court in Jacksonville and they issued their ruling last week. In their opinion, the State of Florida cannot stop the dairy from labeling its all natural skim milk as skim milk. In its ruling, the panel of judges said the dairy’s use of skim milk was not unlawful or misleading and deserved First Amendment protection. The court added that most people think of skim milk as the dictionary defines it: milk with the cream removed.
The federal appeals court’s ruling now sends the case back to the district court. The dairy can’t start making skim milk yet, but they’ve cleared a major hurdle.
It is a victory for the dairy and the Wesselhoefts. They never quit standing up for what they believed in and have worked for. They were not going to be told to label their product “imitation”. They only wanted the label on their product to state exactly what was inside the bottle: “skim milk”.