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Petition Approved! Sioux Falls Will Vote on Banning More Slaughterhouses

Rich guys in Sioux Falls have succeeded in putting a slaughterhouse ban to a citywide vote. Ballot question committee Smart Growth Sioux Falls submitted a petition to the Sioux Falls city clerk last week, claiming that it collected over 10,000 local voter signatures since the beginning of its petition drive at the end of April. Yesterday city clerk Tim Greco finished his count and said, yup, SGSF collected at least the 6,089 signatures, 5% of registered voters in Sioux Falls, needed to place this initiative on the November ballot for Sioux Falls voters.

Sioux Falls voters will thus get to decide this November whether Wholestone Farms can build a big hog slaughterhouse near Benson Road and I-229 to double the aggy stink and slop that already comes from the Smithfield meatpacking plant. Sioux Falls voters will have the chance to block this project and any other such animal choppery by adding this language to their city code:

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Code to the contrary, no new Slaughterhouse may be constructed, or be permitted to operate, within the city limits.

(b) This section does not apply to any existing Slaughterhouse constructed and operating before the effective date of this section. This section does not apply to the expansion or alteration of any Slaughterhouse constructed and operating before the effective date of this section so long as such expansion or alteration occurs at the existing site [Smart Growth Sioux Falls, slaughterhouse ban initiative, retrieved 2022.07.12].

To be clear: this initiative would prevent the construction of any new slaughterhouse in Sioux Falls city limits. It would not affect operations at Smithfield or prevent Smithfield from expanding its operation at its current site. But Smithfield could not move its operations to a new site in town.

Wholestone Farms and anyone else who would like to stink up Sioux Falls and avoid democracy have five business days to file a petition challenge with the city clerk. Those who want to slaughter hogs and democracy have a couple of months to challenge the petition in court. However, thanks to Rep. Drew Dennert’s 2021 House Bill 1124, now enshrined in SDCL 12-16-1, election officials are authorized to print general election ballots on September 9, 60 days before the election. If a petition challenge is not resolved by that date, the printing of the ballots would render such a challenge moot.

We don’t know exactly which rich capitalist funded this petition drive to stymie other rich capitalists (watching the capital class fight itself instead of labor is one of the great joys of this initiative). Under Sioux Falls campaign finance rules, municipal ballot question committees don’t have to disclose any campaign contributions or spending until September 6. Smart Growth Sioux Falls (and anyone else who raises or spends money to influence the vote on this city initiative) will have to disclose further contributions and spending on October 5, November 3, and January 11. (Sioux Falls code also includes a requirement that ballot question committees submit financial disclosure statements within three business days following and complete through “the last Monday one week prior to the election”; however, the last Monday one week before the election is October 31, which is also covered by the October report due November 3, so in this election, that last-Monday requirement appears to be redundant.)

When they come in, those campaign finance reports will help us see which rich Republican interests line up with cash to fight the expansion of the factory-feedlot economy which their party has worked so hard to promote and profit from.


  1. jim 2022-07-12 12:11

    I would like to know who worked with Wholestone to facilitate this? The governor? Mayor?

    I thought I read a few months ago that they worked with both of them. I cannot recall with certainty. But who let them get this far? And did some of the local media look the other way?

    Didn’t anyone stop to look at the big picture? Two slaughterhouses in city limits? In the vote, this project will go down big.

  2. jim 2022-07-12 12:22

    This should have been brought up in the city election. It should be in the governor’s race as well – if Noem had a part in it.

    It could easily have ruined the image of Sioux Falls. One plant (next to the city’s namesake) is bad enough.

    My guess is that Wholestone will get about 25% of the vote. They will try to say “it’s for the farmers”. But that has nothing to do with it. They could have put it well outside city limits.

  3. Mark Anderson 2022-07-12 12:32

    Wholestone could just move it to Crooks, but perhaps that is too apt a description.
    The Wholestone killers could move the slaughterhouse to Sioux City Iowa. New workers in Morningside would work, they could use that big campus. Less college debt for the workers. It would be swell as would the smell. Spread it throughout the City. Currently, the fragrance, is already overwhelming, having driven by there many times on the interstate, it leaves a lasting impression. SDSU would work too, Brookings is already an ag school.

    However everyone, the precedence this vote in Sioux Falls could set isn’t good, and that’s not a joke.

  4. Donald Pay 2022-07-12 17:12

    When heap leach gold mining started up in the Northern Hills, the first folks to object were the wealthy folks who had second homes near Terry Peak and Spearfish Canyon. Most of these folks were political allies of Governor Bill Janklow, yet they were coming to us poor environmentalists to put up a fight against the mining. Quite frankly, I never understood why they didn’t just get Janklow to stop it, so I was one who kind of pooh-poohed the mining fight at the start. Even Janklow chided the environmental community for concentrating on radioactive waste, when we should be fighting the gold mining. Then he switched sides. But, there were good people, besides the rich folks, who also had a domicile in the Hills, so I kind of mellowed out about who was leading the initial charge.

    I see this fight as similar. The rich may have been first to smell the pig-pooh, so to speak, but everyone in Sioux Falls will be smelling it soon enough, if they build it. I like issues like this that unite political ideologies and the socioeconomic classes.

  5. grudznick 2022-07-12 17:26

    The gold industry has a leathery fellow named Mann who lazily does the lob for them these days, Mr. Pay, as it’s a piece of cake and an easy buck. The heaping of leach is going on full bore, with little end in sight. It’s a damn shame.

  6. Arlo Blundt 2022-07-12 18:04

    The whole Wharf fiasco, ongoing as it is, has no end to it with Republicans in power. I see them eating their way along the ridge all the way Ragged Top and the old Balmoral mine. They’d tear down ridges above Spearfish canyon, if allowed and they will be allowed if the current administration and it’s successors are given free hand. Can’t believe more than 25% of Sioux Falls voters will approve of another slaughterhouse within city limits. But…we haven’t seen Wholestone’s television ads yet…another pay day for KELO Land.

  7. Mark Anderson 2022-07-12 19:04

    Went on tour with my parents in the 1960s through Morrell. That’s how they did it then Arlo.

  8. Allen Dunlavy 2022-07-13 07:20

    I have worked in the meat industry for over 30 years. Times have changed and if done correctly, you could slaughter hogs, cows or whatever on a street corner in downtown SF and not even know it existed if run correctly. The air handling equipment and modern practices are such that your smell is really no longer an issue. The older facilities struggle with this but most do okay at it. A packing house may not be a glorious business to those from the outside but remember, even during bad times of economic distress and businesses closing down, a packing house keeps on going, dumping tons of money into a community. In a town the size of Sioux Falls, the payroll will turn at least 3 times and maybe more. Gas, groceries, clothes and the list goes on. Be careful before you kick something to the curb too far. You may find that having a little smell is only the smell of tax dollars hitting the bottom of a empty coffer for a community when the rest are gone and broke. I remember back in the early 90’s Federal Beef was in West Fargo, ND. The mayors race was hinged on two good opponents but they made the race about who could get rid of Federal Beef because they smelled the town up. We had countless meetings with the city, told them it was not all us but they made it about us. We purchased equipment to indicate where the smell came from, went with the police every time there was a smell complaint and so forth. It was not us. Particularly one time the wind was full opposite of the plant and they all still thought it was us. The mayor elected was a friend of business and of the packing house, all was well for the time. I left and moved on to another packing house challenge but the plant closed shortly after that, 400 jobs and the rest went away. West Fargo still had the smell that was not the plant, short 400 jobs that carried on their lives paying for all of a families needs and pouring money into a small economy of West Fargo. I remember traveling through there several years later, gone were so many businesses that did not realize just how important that smell was. I agree businesses have to be held to the standard, but a little smell may not be bad for a local economy because at least you know you have something going on because there will always be a need for food, the farmer will always spend his money and mostly in the local area and something in your economy is better than nothing when all the others have dried up and left you, I mean c’mon, where is Amazon right now, oh yah that is right, they are not going to open it now because of the economy, another empty building before it is even started with only a half promise it will ever start those thousand jobs. Be smart Sioux Falls, take the little smell and guarantee of jobs.

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-07-13 09:13

    So wouldn’t Sioux Falls get all the same benefits if Wholestone Farms built the slaughterhouse a few miles outside city limits, where we’d minimize the risk of occasional emissions?

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-07-13 09:15

    Jim gets me thinking: since the slaughterhouse will be on the November ballot alongside our races for state office, could the initiative campaign influence the candidates’ campaigns and the turnout for those candidates? Can candidates use the slaughterhouse initiative to boost their own vote tallies?

  11. Ryan 2022-07-13 09:23

    In the 90s, a factory with 400 jobs in a town of 12,000 would be a big deal for the local economy. In 2022, a factory with 2,000 jobs is not that big of a deal in a metro of 250k people with very low unemployment. People who make money off stinky operations always tell everyone else it’s just building character. Nah.

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-07-13 09:53

    Ryan, could the backers of the slaughterhouse respond to the “low unemployment” argument by saying that unemployment changes and adding these new slaughterhouse jobs would insulate the city from future downturns?

  13. Sheldon 2022-07-13 11:26

    I still don’t know why people are not arguing that Wholestone provides a unique opportunity to capitalize on Smithfield’s labor force. Wholestone is an American Family owned company out of Nebraska. Smithfield is owned by the chinese. Wholestone will provide a modern working environment. They needed to be close to Sioux Falls to attract the workforce away from Smithfield.

    Imagine if this plant causes Smithfield to close!!! Sioux Falls would still have one slaughterhouse using modern equipment paying higher wages, and we could redevelop Smithfield and further enhance the Falls. Look to the bigger picture. If this passes, Smithfield will stay where it is forever continually detracting from the beauty of the Falls…

  14. Nick Nemec 2022-07-13 15:01

    Are there benefits to the company for locating inside the city limits instead of 5-10 miles outside of town? Do they get to access cheap city sewer to dump their waste and thereby pass the cost of sewage treatment off on the taxpayers? Maybe use municipal water without having to pay for the cost of infrastructure. Paved City streets?
    On the flip side of that coin is there any benefit to the city having then within city limits that wouldn’t happen if they built outside city limits and outside the city growth zone.

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