Wholestone Farms won a narrow victory at the polls in Sioux Falls last November when voters rejected an initiative backed by ethanol magnate Jeff Broin that would have stopped Wholestone Farms from building a big hog slaughterhouse within whiffing distance of Broin’s office to the north and his mansion to the south. Now Jeff Broin’s money—and yours, and mine—will help Wholestone expand its hoghouse in Fremont, Nebraska, thanks to the socialist intervention of the United States Department of Agriculture:
United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development Director Kate Bolz announced today a $25 million Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program (MPPEP) grant awarded to Wholestone Farms in Fremont for a significant plant expansion.
“This major initiative will create new jobs, expand processing opportunities for farmers, and benefit consumers. USDA Rural Development is proud to support Wholestone Farms and their cooperative of independent pork producers through this investment” explains Bolz.
The announcement was part of a nationwide investment announced today of more than $43 million in meat and poultry processing research, innovation, and expansion. These efforts are a part of ongoing USDA efforts to transform the food system at every stage along the supply chain. This investment is funded through the American Rescue Plan and the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative [USDA, press release, 2023.03.09].
$25 million of our public dollars sunk into the Fremont slaughterhouse means $25 million in private dollars that Wholestone Farms can spend to expedite the construction of its Sioux Falls plant, which back in December we heard would take $500 million to $600 million and 2.5 years.
But perhaps we can spare Jeff Broin a few groans of ironic agony over the socialist appropriation of his wealth to his olfactory oppressors. Wholestone Farms just signed a deal with an Iowa porker to combine operations and process more pork:
Wholestone Farms has formed a new joint venture with Iowa-based Prestage Foods.
The new entity, Prestage Wholestone, will unite the two farmer-owned companies with two pork processing plants: Wholestone’s plant in Fremont, Nebraska, and a Prestage plant that opened in 2019 in north-central Iowa in Eagle Grove.
…Prestage Wholestone will operate from two plant locations with a daily single-shift harvest capacity of approximately 21,000 head per day.
…The joint Prestage Wholestone venture will start operations no later than Jan. 1, 2024 [Jodi Schwan, “Wholestone Farms Forms Joint Venture with Iowa Hog Processor,” Sioux Falls Business, 2023.02.22].
An expansion in Fremont and quasi-merger in Iowa could absorb all of Wholestone’s attention and leave Sioux Falls out of their pork picture:
As for what the move might mean for the planned $600 million pork processing plant in northeast Sioux Falls, which voters allowed to move forward late last year, Minion said in a follow-up statement:
“The Prestage Wholestone joint venture is the right business decision for our farmers right now. We love the Sioux Falls community and our property there. We continue to develop our business options for the Sioux Falls site and communicate specific information when available.”
After the project was delayed from starting construction by the ballot issue, Minion said in early November that currency-related shifts in the export market combined with the inflation of labor, construction and borrowing costs made it a different picture to navigate.
“It’s a very complicated time in the world, and we have to be successful in a project this size,” he said at the time [Schwan, 2023.02.22].
So consider: Wholestone merges with an Iowa outfit to add processing capacity in Iowa in less than half the time it will take to build a new Sioux Falls slaughterhouse. Then it gets a big federal grant and plows that money into doubling production at its Nebraska facility instead of jump-starting new construction in Sioux Falls. So even though Sioux Falls voters narrowly invited Wholestone Farms to stink up their joint last November, Wholestone Farms—now Prestage Wholestone—seems more interested in bringing the blessings of pork, both edible and federal, to other locales.
And since Jeff Broin doesn’t have a house or office in Eagle Grove or Fremont, everybody’s happy, right, Jeff?