New player shifts dynamic in slaughterhouse debate in Sioux Falls

Group backing Wholestone Farms' efforts to build pork processing plant plans to commit "resources" to the campaign. Sioux Falls Open for Business filed paperwork this week that allows them to spend money leading up to the November election. The group is supported by 16 agriculture and business organizations.


By Patrick Lalley, Mitchell Republic (SD)

September 20, 2022


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A new group joined the debate over animal processing plants in Sioux Falls this week, potentially changing the financial dynamics of the citywide election in November.


Sioux Falls Open for Business filed paperwork with the city clerk’s office on Tuesday, Sept. 20, creating a ballot question committee. The group represents a collection of agriculture and business interests from Sioux Falls and the region, several of which have already stated their opposition to a proposed ban on new slaughterhouses in the city.


The significance of the filing isn’t the individual members’ opposition to the ban, rather their ability to spend money in support of that position.


“We have a campaign and marketing strategy to get the truth out about what this vote really is and why it's important to have locally sourced food in South Dakota,” said Christine Erickson, a former city councilor who is chairperson for Sioux Falls Open for Business.


That puts the Open for Business committee on equal status with Smart Growth Sioux Falls, the group backing the ban, which reported raising nearly $100,000 as of Aug. 31.


Erickson declined to estimate how much money the group may commit to the campaign. The new organization is a “grassroots” effort to share what the vote means for the city and implications of a potential ban, she said.


While that means they will be spreading out to communicate with civic and service organizations, and other retail campaign activities, they also know it will take money, Erickson said.


“We recognize that it will take resources to get our message out to the voters and we are prepared to get that message out,” she said.


The committee has hired Lawrence & Schiller, a prominent Sioux Falls advertising and marketing firm with a long history of political work in the state.


The ballot question was spurred by the plans by Wholestone Farms to build a pork plant in northeast Sioux Falls that could process up to 6 million pigs per year. Those plans have been in the works for about 5 years and were largely under the public’s radar.


Last summer Citizens for a Sustainable Sioux Falls gathered 10,000 signatures asking voters to ban future slaughterhouses within city limits. The city vote will be held in conjunction with the broader midterm elections on Nov. 8.


Smart Growth Sioux Falls is the ballot committee created in support of that ban. Another slaughterhouse no longer fits the kind of economic development the city wants or needs, they contend. They point to the accompanying traffic, odor and threats to water quality...


Sioux Falls Open for Business supporters ...