Sioux Falls pork plant supporters launch advertising campaign
Wholestone Farms backers say they have "an uphill battle" to defeat proposed ban on new slaughterhouses in the city. A ballot initiative brought by opponents to the plant will be decided in Nov. 8 election.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The backers of a planned pork processing plant in Sioux Falls launched an advertising campaign in recent days aimed at defeating a November ballot initiative.
Sioux Falls Open for Business placed ads on radio and television asking residents to vote against the initiative, which would ban any future slaughterhouses in the city.
Christine Erickson, chairperson of the Open for Business campaign committee, said more than 100 individuals and organizations have donated to the effort. The group also launched a website — siouxfallsopenforbusiness.com — to detail their position and solicit contributions.
“We know we have an uphill battle,” Erickson said Tuesday, Sept. 27.
Wholestone Farms, a farmer-owned cooperative that wants to build a facility that could eventually process 6 million pigs a year. But in June, opponents gathered 10,000 signatures to put a ban on future slaughterhouses before city voters.
That vote will be held on Nov. 8, in conjunction with state and federal elections.
Smart Growth Sioux Falls is the campaign committee formed in support of the ban. That organization is backed by a collection of local businesses and organizations who are concerned about the potential for odor, water pollution and increased traffic in the area near the Benson Road exit on Interstate 229 in northeast Sioux Falls.
Thusfar, Smart Growth has purchased billboard space to get their message across, said the committee’s treasurer, Robert Peterson.
“We are confident in the strategy we have in place,” he said. “Over 10,000 local residents signed the petition to put this ordinance on the ballot. The people of Sioux Falls are excited to vote yes to stop more slaughterhouses from being built within our city limits.”
Smart Growth raised just under $100,000 as of Aug. 31, the most recent deadline to report financial contributions to the city clerk’s office.
Sioux Falls Open for Business has not yet filed finance reports because it was formed after Aug. 31.
The next filings will cover fundraising and spending through Sept. 30. The reports are due Oct. 5.
The degree to which the slaughterhouse ban becomes frequent fodder on television, radio and your social media streams is dependent upon the money available.
Both sides now have considerable potential sources for revenue.
Erickson said Open for Business is focused on “grassroots” fundraising from local and regional sources.
The group’s list of supporters include an array of business and agriculture associations such as the pork, poultry and beef producers, grain farmers and the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce. Wholestone is also backing Open for Business and Erickson said there are more that will be signing on.
S.D. Pork Producers Association
S.D. Poultry Industries Association
S.D. Dairy Producers
S.D. Agri-Business Association
S.D. Association of Cooperatives
S.D. Trucking Association
S.D. Cattlemen’s Association
Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce
Sioux Area Metro Growth Alliance
Their contention is that the ban is bad precedent for business looking to start or expand in the city. Wholestone has been planning the operation for about five years and followed all the rules, they argue. If the city says no now, that undermines confidence of other business leaders.
Each association decides whether they will give as an organization, just encourage their members to give, or both, Erickson said.
“We have a long way to go but we are really focused on that grassroots effort to get that message out,” she said. “We know the challenge and fundraising goal is steep, especially when we look at the opponents and the amount of money their major backer has.”
That major backer, according to the first round of campaign finance disclosures, is Jeff Broin, founder and CEO of POET, the world’s largest producer of ethanol.
POET’s corporate headquarters and Broin’s home are about a mile in either direction of the Wholestone site.
Broin’s company contributed $25,000 to Smart Growth as of Aug. 31. Broin’s brother, Todd, gave $10,000.
The other major financial backer of the ban is JDS Industries, which contributed $25,000. Founded in 1973 as JD’s House of Trophies, today JDS is “the world's leading supplier of component parts for awards, promotional products and gifts, sign supplies and many other personalizable products,” according to their website.