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Proposed meatpacking plant clears hurdle after ban vote fails

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NPR
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The results are in and Sioux Falls seems poised to get a new meatpacking facility. That’s despite a major push to prevent it from coming.

Sioux Falls voters narrowly voted down a ban on new meatpacking facilities by a 52% to 48% margin.

That clears a potential major hurdle for Wholestone Food’s planned $500 million facility.

Robert Peterson is with Smart Growth Sioux Falls, the group which led opposition to the facility. He said he is proud of the group's campaign.

“We wanted the voters to be able to have a voice and be able to make a decision on new slaughterhouses in Sioux Falls," Peterson said. "We’re proud of our efforts to bring this to a vote. We’re obviously disappointed with the close result and how it turned out. We still have concerns about new slaughterhouses within the city limits, but we’ve always said the people of Sioux Falls should decide.”

Curt Soehl represents central Sioux Falls on the city council. Soehl along with two other councilmembers, Marshal Selberg and Alex Jensen, were vocal in their opposition to the ban.

Soehl said while it was uncertain what voters would decided, he is pleased by the outcome.

“Well, you’re always hopeful when you go into an election like that, but it was slightly a surprise, but not overwhelmingly a surprise for me," Soehl said. "I’m pretty proud of the citizens of Sioux Falls that show their support for ag, and support for Sioux Falls moving forward. I think we will look back twenty years from now and say, ‘this is the right move for the right reasons.'”

Soehl said he believes the vote has settled this issue.

“Sioux Falls is open for business," Soehl said. "We look for good businesses to move to our city, and if you follow the rules, we’re gonna support you – I think that’s the message going forward. Sioux Falls is still an ag community, and we support agriculture, especially value-added agriculture.”

In a statement, Wholestone Foods said the company is “grateful for the vote outcome and thankful to Sioux Falls voters.”

Tags
Politics meatpackingSioux Falls, South Dakotameatpacking plants
C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering education, healthcare, arts and culture.
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