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Federal appeals court rules that state was wrong to demand Ocheesee Creamery add vitamins or change skim milk label

282082_140960002653067_848046_nby Teresa Eubanks, Journal Editor

After five years of battling the State of Florida over their skim milk, Calhoun County’s Ocheesee Creamery finally got some good news.

On March 20, three federal appeals court judges agreed that the state can’t stop the Wesslehoeft family from labeling the milk they get from their own cows on their own farm and bottle themselves as “skim milk.”

The state told the small business they had to add vitamins to their all-natural product before selling it as skim milk.  If they wanted to continue as they had before, they would be required to add the word “imitation” to the label.

The federal appeals court disagreed.  Now, the family will wait out the next three months to see if the state will appeal that decision.  If the state accepts the decision, then the creamery can return to selling its all natural skim milk.

The family business,  located just inside Calhoun County next to the Jackson County line, has had to pour out thousands of gallons of the skim milk each month throughout their battle with the state.   All that extra skim milk is produced when they remove the cream to make their butter, yogurt and ice cream that is popular with their customers.  Their products are sold at their farm and in stores throughout the panhandle.

One of the federal judges who ruled in their favor last week told the family, “This is something that should have never gone to court.”  During last week’s hearing, one of the judges noted, “Back in the 70s, everybody knew what skim milk was - it’s milk with the cream taken off.  What the state is doing is trying to take two words out of the dictionary and change their meaning.”

“All we wanted to do was be honest about our milk,” said Mary Lou Wesselhoeft.

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