Posted on


E DITOR Colby cheese bill needs your support to succeed

To the editor: Over the past several weeks I have been made aware that you may not know what happened with Colby cheese becoming a state symbol.

Well it hasn’t. Yet.

My visit to the capital on the 12th of November, where I delivered quarter pound samples of Colby cheese to representatives, senators, and their staff, was marked with a rough start.

I visited the Senate committee members (where the bill is referred to as SB519), and was met with criticism, annoyance, and apathy. Nowhere else could I have been more subjected to condescension. Abundant were notepads remaining absent of notes, watches being double and triple checked for the time, and sarcastic grins and scoffs at the dialogue of a taxpayer.

“Why would we want to waste time on this? We have more important matters to attend to.”… “You really think this is going to save your dairy farms?”... “If anything, we should propose a bill to reduce the number of state symbols; we have too many as it is.” … “That’s neat you want your hometown in the lime-light, but this doesn’t benefit anyone else, really.”

I even had a staffer bark at me that I was purposefully trying to get people in trouble by handing out a bribery….of cheese. All but one of the eight Senate committee offices I visited shared this sentiment: Senator Stroebel’s office was receptive to what Colby cheese as a state symbol would mean, which is important because he is the chairman of the Senate committee that this bill resides in. Maybe this is a silly notion to them. Or perhaps because their home districts are urban (Kenosha, Milwaukee, etc.), and they don’t think a farm kid understands anything...

On the other hand, the Assembly side (where the bill is referred to as AB572) was therapeutic; cheery, receptive, engaging, I found a warm acceptance of my promotion for Colby cheese. An overwhelming majority (all but one) pledged their vote in favor of the measure.

The work is far from over. In the coming weeks, committees will be looking at what fresh new bills to start the year with. I see this as the opportune moment. Starting off the year with a non-controversial bill — with many bipartisan opportunities, no baggage or opposition — would fast track Colby cheese to become a state symbol. However, the bills 572 and 519 need to get out of committee. Recall back to School House Rock: “I am Just a Bill.” We need this to be moved up to a vote by both houses.

This is where rural communities, dairymen, farmers, cheese makers, Wisconsinities, and I, all need your help. Please contact Rep. Tauchen, Sen. Bernier, Sen. Stroebel, and tell them you support Bill AB572/SB519, and that our next and best state symbol should rightfully be Colby cheese, and soon!

Maybe you are thinking, “Come on, Matt, this is stupid.” But think about this for a second; it’s not about what the cheese is, it’s about what it was made from: family generations of dairy farmers, our farmland, standing traditions of excellence in dairy, and state pride. It’s more than just a dairy product; it is a taste of Wisconsin.

This begins and ends with you. Let’s not lose the opportunity for our beloved Colby cheese to become a state symbol due to lack of action.

Here are email addresses of lawmakers to contact: Matt Oehmichen