An ordinance to ban the construction of future slaughterhouses within the city limits of Sioux Falls, South Dakota was shot down Tuesday in the 2022 mid-term election. According to the South Dakota Secretary of State, Sioux Falls voting precincts rejected the measure with 55,690 total votes, 52% no (28,986) versus 48% yes (26,704).
In September of 2021, Wholestone Farms announced their intent to build a $500 million-plus pork processing plant on a 170-acre parcel of land in northeast Sioux Falls. With more than 200 independent producer-owners that collectively market 12 million hogs annually, mainly in Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota, Wholestone Farms already operates a 3 million-head harvest plant in Fremont, Nebraska.
Soon after the announcement, an opposition group emerged seeking to halt construction of the plant. Smart Growth Sioux Falls objected to building a slaughterhouse inside the city limits. The group gathered the required signatures to have the voters of Sioux Falls weigh in on whether the city should prohibit future slaughterhouses in Sioux Falls city limits. The ordinance would not have applied to existing slaughterhouses, such as Smithfield Foods, within the city limits, or expansion or alterations made of said facilities.
Privately held biofuel company POET poured more than $1 million into the Smart Growth campaign to stop Wholestone Farms' plans to build the processing plant, according to a campaign finance disclosure filed Nov. 3. The $1,080,950 donation came on top of the $25,000 POET contributed earlier in the campaign. POET's headquarters are about a mile northwest of the Wholestone site, while the company's founder and CEO, Jeff Broin, owns a home less than two miles from the site.
The vote no on the slaughterhouse ordinance was backed by the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce as well as the South Dakota Soybean Association, Pipestone Holdings, South Dakota Pork Producers Council, Iowa Pork Producers Assocation, Minnesota Pork and several other state and regional commodity and agribusiness associations.
On Oct. 25, Wholestone Farms held a ribbon cutting ceremony for its custom butcher shop on the site east of Interstate 229, with plans to start processing 20 to 30 hogs a week. The butcher shop allows customers to select a Wholestone farmer and order a pig turned into Wholestone-branded products. Since the butcher shop technically qualifies as a slaughterhouse under city code, Wholestone Farms had intended to continue their plans to expand to the larger facility, despite the outcome of the election. However the firm recognized the project would have more than likely been legally challenged.
Luke Minion, the board chair of Wholestone Farms, told Sioux Falls Business, "It's great to be on this side of this. We're really happy for the Wholestone farmers and thankful for the voters and how we're doing, I think, the right thing beyond Wholestone. I think we got this one right for Sioux Falls and right for the state, and we'’ll see how it goes from here."