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GOP Lobbyist, AV Businessman Plan to Fight Wholestone Farms Slaughterhouse with Local Ballot Question

South Dacola reports that the business-class opponents of the proposed Wholestone Farms hog slaughterhouse in Sioux Falls have officially organized a ballot question committee:

Smart Growth Sioux Falls, ballot question committee statement of organization, filed with Sioux Falls City Clerk 2022.04.13.
Smart Growth Sioux Falls, ballot question committee statement of organization, filed with Sioux Falls City Clerk 2022.04.13.

This campaign finance filing declares that Smart Growth “supports measures to prohibit certain Slaughterhouses from being constructed, or being permitted to operate, within Sioux Falls city limits.” No such ballot measures exist yet, but this filing indicates Sioux Falls residents should expect one to pop up shortly. Yay, petitions!

Chairman of the new ballot question committee is Mark Kuca, owner of Mid States Audio and Video. Kuca’s shop sits just west of I-229 within a mile of the proposed slaughterhouse. Mid States AV appeared in an April 7 open letter to the mayor and city council as one of 57 entities opposing the project. Committee treasurer is Robert Peterson, popular young Jackley Republican lobbyist, son of two legislators (one former, one current), and exec of the newly formed anti-slaughterhouse group Citizens for a Sustainable Sioux Falls.

Smart Growth SF declares its primary interest to be promoting “forward-thinking, sustainable development” in Sioux Falls. I look forward to the food fight that will ensue when Peterson and the committee put forth a ballot measure declaring Wholestone Farms and similar ag-industrial despoilers of genteel urbanity not to constitute “forward-thinking, sustainable development” and Peterson’s hoggy Sioux Falls Republican friend G. Mark Mickelson, who makes money on the ag-industrial complex and hates ballot measures, must come forward to defend the CAFO meat grinders as forward-thinking and sustainable.


  1. Ryan 2022-04-21 09:15

    i don’t have to venture to northern sioux falls very often, but i did yesterday. i honestly don’t know how anybody can stand to have a home or business within a mile or two of smithfield. it’s borderline unbearable. i would vote to support whatever these folks put on the ballot if it will retard the future increases in olfactory horrors.

  2. Sheldon 2022-04-21 09:51

    If people actually care about the working conditions for the employees at Smithfield, you need to support Wholestone. Allowing for a competitor using state of the art modern technology and safer working conditions, will force Smithfield to either increase their wages and/or improve their own facility. Wholestone will also not smell anywhere near as bad as Smithfield because of the updated technology. If in the end, this plant causes the closure of Smithfield because they can’t keep up, that might not be a bad thing for Sioux Falls…

  3. Donald Pay 2022-04-21 11:47

    Sheldon makes some good points, but Wholestone is still large-scale food processing. It has a lot of impacts.
    and there are cumulative impacts with the current Smithfield plant. In my opinion it’s too big an operation for its setting. Site it elsewhere or scale it down, and it might be fine. The initiative/referendum approach is appropriate for these large-scale projects with a lot of environmental impact. Citizens should have a voice in the decision on this. Whatever they decide, they have to live with it.

  4. Mark Anderson 2022-04-21 12:49

    I remember touring a slaughterhouse in my youth in Sioux Falls, why my mother and father took me there I don’t know. I always enjoyed the slaughterhouse smell every summer driving past Sioux City on the interstate when we came back to visit. Such a wonderful smell as your leaving Iowa. Sioux Falls should allow, say Trent to have this joyous place of business, I’m sure Dell Rapids would pass it down the road.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-04-21 17:30

    I am really curious about Sheldon’s point. I can imagine that argument about competition, improved working conditions, and better anti-stink technology coming straight from Wholestone/Pipestone corporate HQ… but that argument also makes me want to find out if there could be some connection between Smithfield and the folks mentioned above who are organizing the opposition to the Wholestone slaughterhouse. It doesn’t make much sense: Mickelson would probably welcome this second slaughterhouse, since it would give the CAFOs who pay for his consulting more business and help him make money recruiting more CAFOs to the area. TenHaken didn’t sound too excited about Wholestone when they announced the project. Maybe TenHaken is connected with these opponents, using them to lead the fight against it so his name doesn’t appear in the fray and so his Republican friends don’t get mad at him from blocking their profit model.

    But to whom would TenHaken be more beholden: Smithfield or his GOP pals?

  6. chris 2022-04-22 12:16

    Well TenHaken went to Dordt college in Sioux Center, where the air smells like a swine manure lagoon 24/7/365. Maybe there is a different bunch of vertically integrated CAFO’s gunning for this one.

  7. Donald Pay 2022-04-23 10:24

    I remember a similar issue back in the 1990s that drew opposition from the Sioux Falls business community. The plan was for a huge medical waste incinerator operation somewhere in North Sioux Falls. It wasn’t just for the waste in the Sioux Falls hospitals, but for medical waste from the nation. I know the city had a “task force” or “work group” looking at it, and some were preparing some sort of ballot measure. Mike Hohn and several other business folks led the opposition. It never was built.

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