Nebraska pork processing plant provides window into new Sioux Falls operation


Melisa Goss, Tri-State Neighbor (NE)

AgUpdate - Aug 2, 2022


Pulling up to the Wholestone Farms plant in Fremont, Nebraska, something significant seemed to be missing.


The stench.


Hog processing facilities are known for their odorous nature, but the air that day was fresh and clear, even with a slight eastern breeze. Even the inside of the plant was devoid of foul smelling air.


Smell has been one of the top concerns raised by opponents of Wholestone’s second plant, which is set to open in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in 2025.


A group known as Citizens for a Sustainable Sioux Falls organized opposition to the new plant off of Interstate 229 on the northeastern edge of the city. Potential odor, along with traffic and water issues, are among their concerns.


The group petitioned, collecting over 10,000 signatures from Sioux Falls citizens to put the matter on the ballot. In November voters will decide whether new slaughterhouses, not just Wholestone, should be allowed to be built within city limits.


The proposed measure would not impact existing packing plants or expansion of those. The Smithfield plant could continue operating under those rules. Wholestone is looking to do the same by building a small butcher shop on site before November and expanding from there.


In a talk during the Ag United luncheon last winter, Luke Minion, Wholestone’s chairman of the board, who is a resident of Sioux Falls, said Sioux Falls was deliberately chosen as the company’s expansion site after asking then Gov. Dennis Daugaard for suggestions of where to build.


“We combed all of South Dakota. It’s pretty hard to locate a plant that needs 2,000 team members anywhere but Sioux Falls,” Minion said.


It came down to labor.


Minion said even with the Sioux Falls population, finding labor will be its own unique challenge, because it’s difficult to fill positions everywhere. The company hopes a starting wage of $20.50, as it offers at the Fremont plant is an effective way to lure employees. Along with that, the company offers a 6% match on all 401Ks and fully covered health insurance...