Nolechek’s Meats v. USDA and FSIS

Nolechek’s Meats, a small, family-run business in Wisconsin, is fighting back against the Biden Administration's use of the USDA to implement its partisan public health agenda.

In yet another example of what is becoming a familiar tactic, the Biden Administration is using a food inspection agency to implement its partisan public health agenda. But with the help of the Liberty Justice Center, a small, family-run business in Wisconsin is fighting back. Nolechek’s Meats is a gourmet meat shop in Thorp, Wisconsin (population 1,598) that has been crafting small-batches of award winning bacon, ham, and sausages for four generations.

Since the early 1970s, the Nolechek family has been crafting high-quality meat products that are enjoyed in their community and shipped throughout the country. In 2017, Nolechek’s Meats secured the right to receive inspection from the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), which meant that it could begin selling its products commercially out of state. Since then, the small-town meat shop has expanded its out-of-state wholesale operations into a significant component of its business.

But decades of the family’s hard work and success was all jeopardized in August 2021 when FSIS announced Notice 34-21, without any rulemaking process or ability for affected parties to comment. The notice ordered all FSIS-inspected establishments to force their employees to wear masks when FSIS personnel are present. Furthermore, the notice indicated that if an establishment refused to comply, FSIS would withhold the “USDA Mark of Inspection” allowing its products to be sold commercially out of state.

Out of respect for their employees’ discretion to make their own health choices and because they believed that FSIS did not have authority to impose a mask mandate, Nolechek’s Meats’ owners, Kelly Nolechek and Lindsey Fox, declined to comply with the notice. FSIS immediately revoked their Mark of Inspection and denied their subsequent appeals.

In response, Nolechek’s Meats’ owners took to social media to publicize their story and pleading for help. Their efforts resulted in tens of thousands of likes, shares, and views, and the Liberty Justice Center is now representing Nolechek’s Meats in a lawsuit against the United State Department of Agriculture and FSIS on grounds that Notice 34-21 violates established constitutional and administrative law.

The Liberty Justice Center aims to overturn this illegal and intrusive Biden Administration overreach and restore the liberties of the owners and employees of Nolechek’s Meats and other small businesses across the country.

Case update: On Jan. 15, 2022, We’re the Wurst Incorporated of Redmond, Ore., and Golden City Meats, LLC, of Golden City, Mo., joined the lawsuit to end the illegal mask mandate imposed on small businesses. Both We’re the Wurst and Golden City Meats currently have their Marks withheld for refusing to comply with the illegal federal requirement. Without the Mark of Inspection, products from the businesses can be labeled “adulterated,” recalled and be prohibited from being sold to wholesalers for reasons entirely disconnected and untethered from the safety and quality of the businesses’ meat products.


Buck Dougherty

Buck Dougherty

Buck Dougherty is a Senior Counsel at the Liberty Justice Center, where he litigates in trial and appellate courts on behalf of everyday citizens in order to protect their civil liberties and preserve their constitutional rights.

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Case In The News

Fox Business | Cavuto Coast to Coast
December 8, 2021

(Fox Business | Cavuto Coast to Coast)—Lindsey Fox, fourth-generation owner of Nolechek’s Meats, and Daniel Suhr, managing attorney at Liberty Justice Center, joined Neil Cavuto to discuss their challenge to the USDA mask mandate. The Liberty Justice Center is representing Nolechek’s Meats in the federal lawsuit, Nolechek’s Meats vs. USDA,...

Case Documents



Nolechek’s Meats v. USDA and FSIS


December 2, 2021


United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin




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