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Proposed Sioux Falls meatpacking plant faces petition challenge

Aaron I. Hoffman
Wholestone Farms
A conceptual drawing of a proposed pork processing plant in Sioux Falls.

A producer-owned hog processor says its new slaughterhouse proposed for Sioux Falls would help mitigate some of the state's recent pork supply chain issues.

But a ballot measure allowing Sioux Falls voters to decide if they want another hog processing plant in city limits is expected to make its way onto the city's November ballot.

Glenn Muller is the executive director of South Dakota Pork Producers. The group is not formally involved in the project, but its members support it. He says the new processing and packing facility would help regional producers get a better price for their hogs.

"There's going to be increased harvesting capacity in that. And the fact that we would have more capacity will increase the competition."

Muller is referring to competition with the city's long-existing slaughterhouse, Smithfield, formerly known as John Morrell's.

The new slaughterhouse is proposed by a regional pork processing co-op, Wholestone Farms, which already has a facility in Fremont, Nebraska. The company announced in 2021 that it was bringing a $500 million project to Sioux Falls.

Wholestone says it purchased 170 acres of industrial zoned land for about $12.5 million at the intersection of I-229 and Benson Road. It hopes to start construction by the end of this year.

The co-op will still own the land if voters decide to block the project.

Wholestone Farms

The campaign against the plant is Smart Growth Sioux Falls, organized by Citizens for a Sustainable Sioux Falls.

Robert Peterson directs Citizens for a Sustainable Sioux Falls and is the campaign's treasurer. He says the campaign sees the proposed complex as short-term thinking that sacrifices long-term growth.

"Processing 6 million hogs annually near the heart of Sioux Falls raises serious concerns about the impact on our quality of life."

The concerns Peterson hears most from people when collecting signatures regard wastewater, odor, and their impacts on future development.

Peterson says the campaign is on track to reach the required 6,000 signatures by early July. If it makes the November ballot and voters approve it, the measure would stop any future meat processing plant from being built within city limits.

The company says it would install a $45 million wastewater treatment system and other new technologies that would limit odors. After treatment, wastewater would be discharged into the Big Sioux River.

Luke Minion is chairman of the board of Wholestone Farms. He says many state and city leaders support the project's proposed location, and the project was proceeding until petitioners intervened.

"That's why the petition started — to change the rules."

The company’s website says the complex will bring 1,000 full-time jobs to the area.

Learn more:

Robert Peterson and Luke Minion joined SDPB's In the Moment with Lori Walsh on June 7.

From left: Robert Peterson, Luke Minion
From left: Robert Peterson, Luke Minion
Robert Peterson on In the Moment
Luke Minion on In the Moment

Joshua is the business and economics reporter with SDPB News.
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