Slaughterhouse ban rejected by Sioux Falls voters

Wholestone Farms Exterior Rendering
Wholestone Farms Exterior Rendering(SiouxFalls.Business)
Published: Nov. 8, 2022 at 11:43 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -

UPDATE @ 8:35 AM

Sioux Falls voters have rejected a ban on slaughterhouses within Sioux Falls city limits.


There is no red light or green light yet for more slaughterhouses to be built in the Sioux Falls city limits, including the planned $500 million Wholestone Farms plant that plans to kill and process six million hogs per year.

But things were gradually pointing toward green by 12:20 p.m.

At that time, the “slaughterhouse ordinance” those voting against the ban of slaughterhouses holding a 53 percent to 47 percent lead.

At that time, 20 of the 71 precincts’ votes were fully counted, and 29 of 71 were partially counted.

Out of the over 37,600 votes officially counted, the “No” side — which meant votes for the Wholestone plant to be built — were over 2,000 votes ahead of the “Yes” votes.

The contest was heated for the last several months, with a lawsuit filed against the city by Smart Growth Sioux Falls, the group behind the ordinance almost exactly two months before election day.

Three city councilors orchestrated a media blitz against the measure in the last few days leading to the election, including a joint interview with Dakota News Now in which they accused Smart Growth Sioux Falls of being “light on the facts” in its “Vote Yes” advertising campaign. The Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce also publicly opposed the ordinance.

Proponents included 50 local businesses. Within them were several large businesses, with biorefining company POET being the most notable. That company donated over $1 million dollars to see the ordinance pass, which was the most money any person or entity gave to either campaign.

The “no” vote crowd — led by the group Sioux Falls Open for Business — claimed throughout its campaign that “one person” is behind the ordinance’s drive. They never mentioned the name, but POET CEO Jeff Broin, who lives near the plan, was widely understood to be that person.

The spokesperson Smart Growth Sioux Falls responded yesterday to Dakota News Now by saying the measure is also backed by 50 local businesses and 10,000 people who signed petitions to put the initiative on the ballot when only about 6,000 were required.

The ad campaign for the “Vote Yes” crowd stated that a Wholestone slaughterhouse would bring unwanted odor to the air, and bring pollution to the Big Sioux River.

Wholestone executives and “Vote No” leaders countered by citing the $50 million dollars in odor reducing technology the company will spend, and pointed out examples to what they called similar modern Wholestone facility in Fremont, Nebraska, which they said had no odor. They also said the Wholestone site’s half-mile proximity to a new wastewater treatment facility would result in a prevention of contamination water.

Ordinance proponents countered by noting Wholestone executives would only mention odor mitigation, not elimination.

The main rallying cry of the “Vote No” sector was the message a prevention of the Wholestone plant, and other future slaughterhouses and meat processing facilities, would send to future companies hoping to start operations in Sioux Falls — that Sioux Falls and South Dakota was “open for business, unless we don’t like your industry.” They also pointed out the 1,000 jobs the plant will create, and millions of dollars in economic impact to the city.

The “Vote Yes” response to that — led by Smart Growth Sioux Falls — was that plenty high-end businesses, particularly in the tech field, would not be thwarted by a community that decided not to have a slaughterhouse at one of the main gateways of the city.