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Noem Now Campaigning for Wholestone Farms Slaughterhouse, Calling Citywide Vote “Sad” Anti-Business Measure

A couple weeks ago, the Governor’s Office said the issue of building a second slaughterhouse in Sioux Falls “will be decided at the local level.” But now Noem is actively denigrating the ballot question fellow Republicans have put to Sioux Falls voters to block the Wholestone Farms slaughterhouse as a “sad” anti-business measure:

Noem said other projects have pulled out of the state because of the opposition to Wholestone’s facility, which has been in the works for several years. Wholestone followed the process and got all the permits, she said.

“I think that it’s sad,” the governor said during an interview on KELO-AM radio. “You pass a ballot measure like that down here, that puts every single project we do in South Dakota in jeopardy in the future. That means every company in the state from now on knows that it can meet all the requirements, I can plan, I can do everything right, and at the last minute, one person can get mad, do a ballot petition, and end my investment and my business” [Patrick Lalley, “Noem: Vote on Future Sioux Falls Slaughterhouses Puts Projects in ‘Jeopardy’ Statewide,” Mitchell Republic, 2022.08.31].

Um, Kristi? One person doesn’t do a ballot petition. Thousands of people had to sign the petition to put the in-town slaughterhouse ban on the November ballot. And when one person—i.e., Kristi Noem—took Amendment A to court and overturned the will of the people on marijuana law, Kristi Noem expressed no sadness whatsoever.

A couple of the many people who expressed opposition to the Wholestone Farms slaughterhouse this spring have changed their minds. Noem’s campaign chairman Steve Kirby withdrew his opposition to the Wholestone Farms’ slaughterhouse last week for “confidential… personal” reasons:

Steve Kirby, a former lieutenant governor of South Dakota, Republican gubernatorial candidate and co-founder of a major private equity firm, says he “backed off” from a group that wants city officials to pause the planned construction of a pork processing plant in northeast Sioux Falls.

“I have some confidential reasons, personal to me, that caused me to revisit my support,” Kirby said in an interview Wednesday, Aug. 24, with Forum News Service. “That’s why I’m no longer part of it.”

He declined to elaborate further or comment on the broader issue of slaughterhouses in the city limits, a question that Sioux Falls voters will decide in November.

“I’ve actually stopped thinking about it since I became neutral,” he said [Patrick Lalley, “Steve Kirby, an Early Opponent, Now Says He’s Neutral on Sioux Falls Pork Plant,” Jamestown Sun, 2022.08.25].

Stopped thinking—yes, that’s a helpful feature for Noem supporters.

Kirby at least doesn’t make baseless claims about unnamed businesses choosing not to come to South Dakota. Noem’s claim on that score sounds like scapegoating to distract from the fact that her administration may be struggling to recruit top employers because of her administration’s inattention to the chronic economic stagnation that has plagued South Dakota under decades of myopic and inbred one-party rule.

Now perhaps Kirby can get reliable Noem donor and Poet Ethanol CEO Jeff Broin to go neutral on the slaughterhouse that would stink up his office and his home in northeast Sioux Falls. Perhaps Noem could work on persuading Poet’s senior VP for government affairs and communications, Joshua Shields, who was Governor Noem’s first chief of staff.

Perhaps not caught between rich friends, Special Olympics CEO Darryl Nordquist has also withdrawn his organization’s opposition, although he’s passing neutral and moving directly to yes:

In a Mitchell Republic article, the local organization reversed is position and now supports the project. Darryl Nordquist, the group’s CEO admitted, “I screwed up.”

Along with nearly 60 other businesses and nonprofits, the Special Olympics of South Dakota had signed an open letter opposing the plant. However, since that time, a local farmer has since convinced him it won’t be that smelly.

Nordquist claims that the proposed pork plant will be better for farmers [Jennifer Shike, “Special Olympics Reverses Position, Now Supports S.D. Pork Plant,” Pork Business, 2022.08.25].

The Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce is endorsing the Governor’s line that banning slaughterhouses is bad for business. It announced last week its formal opposition to the slaughterhouse initiative:

The Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce opposes the slaughterhouse zoning ordinance for the following reasons:

  • Primarily, this ordinance would change the rules in the middle of the game for a business that has followed all the rules set forth in city ordinance.
    • When a small group of citizens can prohibit a proposed development by submitting a question to the voters to block said business, serious concerns arise. It creates uncertainty for any future business who may consider locating in Sioux Falls. In short, this is bad for the economic future of our city.
  • There was no opposition to rezoning the land:
    • Wholestone purchased the land three years after the site was rezoned. In 2017, the landowner submitted an application, which was approved by the city council, requesting the land be rezoned from agriculture to an I-2 Heavy Industrial District. The rezone had two hearings before the city council. There was no public opposition to the rezones in 2017.
  • The people of Sioux Falls approved our city’s current zoning ordinances by 65% in April of 2014.
    • The Shape Sioux Falls zoning ordinance was developed by the City’s Planning and Zoning team based on input from a survey of 1,500 citizens, followed by approximately 60 public meetings over a three-year period.
    • It was referred to a public vote and was approved by 65% in April of 2014. It became effective that same month [Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce, position statement on slaughterhouse zoning ordinance, 2022.08.26].

Early voting begins September 23.

16 Comments

  1. jim 2022-09-01 07:22

    Dear Sioux Falls,

    Hold Your Nose and Keep Your Mouth Shut!

  2. O 2022-09-01 08:15

    It looks like Sioux Falls had a moment where they mistook themselves for a democracy but quickly were corrected that they live under a (business) oligarchy. The truly disappointing part is that the mechanics will be that of a democratic vote where so many will vote against their own interests to further the interests of the 1%.

  3. John 2022-09-01 08:17

    Dear Sioux Falls, take your next vacation at Austin, MN; Sioux City, IA; or Lexington, NE. Those are the types of towns and neighborhoods you about to create.

    Allow NW Iowa to have this “economic activity”. They already have the CAFOs.

  4. jim 2022-09-01 08:59

    “that puts every single project we do in South Dakota in jeopardy” Kristi Noem

    OMG. What does she have in the works? Perhaps a poultry plant by Prairie Green golf course? A dairy operation near McKennan Park? Or a chemical plant behind the mall? “But, but… they already have permits!”

    It’s “sad” alright. It’s sad that she thinks the voters of Sioux Falls shouldn’t have a say in this. That she can cram this down our throats.

  5. Donald Pay 2022-09-01 09:04

    The Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce has some really bogus reasons for opposing the initiative. Let’s look at them—-

    “Changing the rules in the middle of the game” argument: Changing the rules is what democracy is about, and it’s always in the middle of someone’s “game.” The Legislature changes the rules every year. Local governments change the rules every time they meet. The Chamber even admits the city changed the rules in 2014. Why shouldn’t the City go back to an earlier zoning ordnance? In government, as in business as in life, the rules change and you have to adjust. Life and progress can’t stop because the Chamber whines. Life isn’t a sandlot baseball game, and whining like a 7-year-old about it being “unfair” is immature. If people want to change things now, how is that any different than all the changes in the past?

    “There was no opposition to rezone the land” argument: Sure, it would be nice and efficient if people objected at the time that GOVERNMENT wanted them to object, but did anyone have a clue as to the enormity of the project that such rezoning might bring forth. I think not. That may be the fault of the CITY or the BUSINESS, not citizens, because the city and business didn’t adequately study or disclose what the ramifications might be. The Constitution doesn’t limit citizens who petition for redress of grievances to some fake timeline demanded by government or business.

    “The people of Sioux Falls approved the current zoning ordinance in 2014” argument: Fine, but did they know at the time that THIS PROJECT would be the result of that vote? I think not. People’s opinions change as the result of changed circumstances and new developments. Take that vote today, and you might get a different answer.

  6. jim 2022-09-01 09:13

    Never once.

    Never, ever, have I heard anyone say they like the smell of Morells/Smithfield. Not once. But I have heard the opposite hundreds of times.

    But Kristi Noem, in her infinite wisdom, thought that putting another one in city limits was a brilliant move. And then she tells us its too late. It’s already underway.

    She is “sad” that you don’t understand.

  7. larry kurtz 2022-09-01 09:35

    Because every East River well is poisoned the volume of water that a slaughterhouse gulps is unavailable to Republican owned businesses beyond the reach of the Lewis and Clark water system boondoggle so putting one in Sewer Falls just makes sense,

  8. jim 2022-09-01 10:04

    Don’t do it!

    I am convinced that somebody in the governor’s administration or the mayor’s office threw up a red flag. Somebody had to say… “Hey, this may not be a popular move, you know. Those people aren’t happy with the slaughterhouse they have already.”

    They can’t ALL be incompetent.

  9. jim 2022-09-01 10:16

    Who am I, Rodney Dangerfield?

    They are worried about one business who seems to think they can do whatever the hell they want. Meanwhile, the Chamber should know something. There are about 200,000 other folks – who demand some respect!

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-09-01 10:38

    Jim, I am trying to figure out why Noem would risk taking sides in this fight between competing rich Republicans. Why not stay neutral? Ineed, what does she have planned? Is she really hearing flak from businesses she’s trying to recruit? Did Luke Minion of Wholestone promise her a bigger corporate campaign contribution than Jeff Broin? Is she working for Lederman to tweak Broin’s nose for not going along with the Iowa Republicans’ carbon dioxide pipeline? What’s the game here?

  11. jim 2022-09-01 11:10

    I wondered if Noem was going to be outed for pushing this thing anyway. She obviously is “all in” now. Other than that, I don’t get it either, Cory.

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-09-01 11:58

    She clearly changed her tone, though. She didn’t jump in right at the start. Why was she not all in from the start? If she recruited Wholestone to build this project in Sioux Falls, why didn’t she come out and support it right away and claim credit for bringing those jobs to Sioux Falls? Something changed, and I think that something could illuminate our understanding of this issue.

  13. Donald Pay 2022-09-01 13:27

    Look, I’m pretty neutral on this thing. It might be a good idea, but it’s too big. Way too big for its setting. If they down-scaled it or put it elsewhere, it might be fine. I’d vote for that initiative, if I still lived in Soo Foo.

  14. Arlo Blundt 2022-09-01 13:45

    I can’t believe Joe and Mary Sioux Falls will vote for a second slaughterhouse to “expand the stink” in residential Sioux Falls. The moneyed interests in the city are applying “muscle” to any of their fellows who expressed support for the people’s will to prevail. They are trying to present a solid front in the interest of “big capital”. The steamroller has hit the highway. People in Sioux Falls have a belief that after years of struggle they have finally created a unique city that can be enjoyed on many levels. Now, those who will spend their retirement years in Scottsdale, have decreed that they live and raise their children in an atmosphere reeking of feces and offal. I can’t believe that Sioux Falls folks will comply without a fight.

  15. Arlo Blundt 2022-09-01 17:03

    Mrs. Noem says the ballot issue for an up or down vote on a new Slaughterhouse is “sad” probably because it is “divisive”. She is on a “non-campaign” for Governor believing Republican registration and century old voter tradition gives her an overwhelming advantage. She believes she can easily win with a barrage of television and radio advertising, billboards and print. She has a huge amount of money to spend. Her campaign can be confined to “staged events” with already committed Republican voters. She needs to convert no one. She will have time to continue her national campaign on the weekends.

    She must avoid being seen as confrontational, strident, or emotional. She needs to keep it light and keep smiling. She also needs to keep moving, keep ducking, and keep jiving. Regardless of what she said in the past, NOW, she favors more stink in Sioux Falls.

  16. P. Aitch 2022-09-01 18:17

    Put a weed store a block from a Catholic school and see what the elite think, even if they follow all the rules.

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