Slaughterhouses will hurt business growth in Sioux Falls, ordinance leaders say

SIOUX FALLS, SD (Dakota News Now) – You may have seen the “Stop the Stink” TV commercial, and you may even know about the lawsuit filed against the City of Sioux Falls.

In two weeks, the city’s voters will decide on the “Slaughterhouse Ordinance,” which would ban future slaughterhouses within the city limits. This stems from the proposed 170-acre pork processing plant at I-229 and Benson Road Sioux Falls, known as “Wholestone Farms”.

For the second time in three weeks, the ballot measure was a conversation among influential city business leaders at the Downtown Rotary Conference today.

Two weeks ago, the leader of the opposition party to the ordinance said at Rotary that denying the Wholestone plant would set a bad precedent and drive potential new business to the city and state, the governor. Kristi Noem said it too.

Today, Brendan Johnson, legal counsel at Smart Growth Sioux Falls, presented the opposite.

“It’s not that all of a sudden, we’re like, ‘Oh my God, I was thinking about bringing my new tech company or my warehouse to Sioux Falls, but my God, they stopped a 6 million hog facility Slaughterhouse, what does that mean to me?'” Johnson said. “Come on. Not the same thing.”

“What we’re looking for is that if we want to continue to attract businesses, if we want to continue to attract young professionals, maybe the best thing to do is not to put all our eggs in a 6 million hog a year facility and slaughterhouses. I think it’s a pro-business view. Some people disagree with me, and that’s fine. We’ll let the voters decide.”

Johnson said he has spoken to many residents who don’t want Sioux Falls to be lumped in with a nearby city known for its pork processing plants, and mentioned how the Wholestone plant will be one of the first things people see when traveling from I- North of 229 to Sioux Falls, just off Interstate 29.

“For a lot of us, we don’t want to be Worthington. We don’t want to be Sioux City,” Johnson said. “Well, we want to be Sioux Falls, and the first thing that greets tourists and welcomes new entrepreneurs into town doesn’t have to be a slaughterhouse for 6 million hogs a year.”

The former U.S. attorney said there has been a “brain drain” in Sioux Falls and South Dakota, with some of the brightest young people leaving the city and state.

“As the workforce changes, people will choose their city, not necessarily based on where they work, but where they want to live,” Johnson said. “The reality is that when a lot of people go to Big Bear (the ski and outdoor trail park), they don’t want it to smell like a slaughterhouse.”

In fact, smell has always been at the heart of the anti-slaughterhouse movement. That was the main marketing plan behind Smart Growth’s Sioux Falls TV ad, which told voters to “stop the smell” and showed people people with hangers on their noses.

Wholestone executives told Dakota News Now earlier this year that they’ve spent about $50 million to use “state-of-the-art” technology to reduce odors, and that residents of Sioux Falls shouldn’t be afraid to smell the same from Smithfield. stench. Food factory north of downtown.

“I don’t think it’s fair to compare a 100-year-old factory to a state-of-the-art modern processing plant,” said Christine Erickson, president of the Sioux Falls Business Open, which leads the opposition to the ordinance. Say. “There is nothing like this anywhere in the country. It’s the only place that has this kind of technology. So we should be lucky and lucky to have a facility that cares enough about our environment and cares about bringing food production into the industry.”

Johnson’s response?

“I don’t think there’s a slaughterhouse in the world that doesn’t stink,” Johnson said. “It’s true that slaughterhouses built today may not stink as much as slaughterhouses built 50 years ago. I’m not going to debate that. But you can’t argue either. No odor.”

Rob Peterson, treasurer of Smart Growth Sioux Falls, said smell is subjective, and the way one person smells something may not be the same as the way another person smells it.

Community leaders in Fremont, Nebraska, said in a recent Sioux Falls business article that the four-year-old Wholestone plant there is barely smelling, giving the city a boost.

Peterson told the Rotary crowd that plants are not a valid reference.

“Fremont is completely different because it doesn’t have a sewage lagoon,” Peterson said. “It’s on a much smaller scale. Even so, because they’ve been under Wholestone management, they’ve been cited multiple times for improper dumping and inhumane animal slaughter.”

The extent to which slaughterhouses can protect water quality in the Sioux Falls area has been a major debate. Johnson noted that the river has been rated “F” by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We’ve spent a lot of time and money cleaning up the Big Sioux over the past 15 years,” Peterson said. Peterson said, “If we only allow 1 million gallons of hog moisture and 2 million gallons of treated effluent to be dumped in the Big Sioux per day, then we are considering a serious setback in quality. The Big Sioux. Our namesake — —Sioux Falls. I just don’t think it’s the right direction for the city.”

As a Leif Erikson camper and camp consultant, Peterson said no one at the camp was allowed to touch the water of the Big Sioux because it was so dirty. On a recent visit to Scheer’s Sporting Goods store, Peterson noticed a new fudge snack called “Big Sioux Sludge.”

“We know this and we have to laugh about it so we don’t cry,” Peterson said.

The city has invested in a new wastewater treatment facility that will be located near the Wholestone plant. Erickson said the existence of the facility is one of the reasons for building the plant on its proposed site within the city limits.

“If it wasn’t here, it wouldn’t have happened,” Erickson told Dakota News Now two weeks ago. “I’ll tell you, I’ve spoken to the county commissioner. They don’t have the infrastructure to be able to have a wastewater treatment facility to treat wastewater. We have this technology in Sioux Falls and our city has been very forward-thinking to Make sure we’re connected to Lewis and Clark (water treatment systems) so we have enough water.”

But Johnson said he had spoken to industry experts who had told him there were places just a few miles from the city that could house and handle the Wholestone plant. He would not specify the locations.

Preventing traffic jams has been another slogan at Smart Growth Sioux Falls.

Being located next to the intersection of two major interstates (I-29 and I-90) will minimize congestion for live animal trucks, Erickson told DNN.

“Trucks don’t go through the city center,” Erickson said.

Johnson’s response?

“These trucks — there’s no way they didn’t get off Interstate 90, yes,” Johnson said. “Right? So, the route on I-90, we’re talking about 100 trucks a day with live pigs and about 130 trucks a day with dead pigs. That’s a lot of traffic. It’s going to go along Phillips Avenue? No. But a lot of us use I-90, a lot of us use I-299, and that’s going to make a difference.”

Johnson repeated the message to the DNN and Rotary crowds on Monday more than anyone else that urban voters — not big business or government — should decide on a business that would deliver a unique environment like a slaughterhouse — — hypothetical stench, hypothetical water pollution, and the notion of his reputation as a slaughterhouse city.

That’s why Smart Growth Sioux Falls started its petition and then sued Wholestone and the city over a permit to build the facility.

“Wholestone sidestepped the wishes of voters by creating a custom butcher shop (on the site’s proposed site),” Johnson said. “Why we keep trying to do this is to say, ‘Hey, they broke the law by getting a license. They shouldn’t be released, so that’s what brings us to court, and ultimately, the voters will decide. What we want. We don’t want anyone, no matter how powerful, to shy away from the will of the electorate.”

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