Smart Growth Sioux Falls Lawsuit Aims to Let Voters Decide Fate of Slaughterhouses

SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota – Leaders of an upcoming ballot measure to protect Sioux Falls from new slaughterhouses sought an injunction from the Second Judicial Circuit Court for Minnehaha County, South Dakota, that would block efforts by Wholestone Farms (Wholestone) to circumvent the will of the voters in November. 

Wholestone’s current plan involves fast-tracking the construction of a small “butcher shop” in a brazen attempt to grandfather a 6-million-hog-per-year slaughterhouse before Sioux Falls residents cast their votes on a measure to prohibit new slaughterhouses within city limits. In their filing, Smart Growth Sioux Falls called on the court to bar the city from issuing any permits, licenses, certificates, or approvals to Wholestone based on state laws that expressly prohibit interference with the outcome of a pending ballot measure. 

“We think Wholestone is undermining the law and ignoring the will of the people — and, unfortunately, the city of Sioux Falls is complicit,” said Smart Growth Sioux Falls legal counsel Brendan Johnson. “We believe the law bars the city from preempting the ballot measure and effectively prohibits Wholestone from proceeding until the matter is decided by voters.”

The complaint lists numerous federal, state, and municipal approvals which Smart Growth contends Wholestone must obtain to legally construct and operate their proposed facility. According to the complaint, because Wholestone is racing to build its Butcher Shop before the election, the company may not have all of the required permits and approvals they need.

“This legal challenge is necessary to protect the rights of voters to decide an extremely controversial issue that would directly impact everyone in Sioux Falls,” said Smart Growth Sioux Falls Treasurer Robert Peterson. “More than 10,000 voters demanded an opportunity to stop new slaughterhouses likely to stink up our community, ruin our water, and pile up traffic on our roads. Our campaign is not just about halting Wholestone — it’s about stopping all new slaughterhouses from destroying our city’s bright future.”

Just this week, Smart Growth Sioux Falls also filed a public records request with the governor’s office for communications that could reveal which slaughterhouse operators may be working behind the scenes to locate more industrial meat-packing facilities in Sioux Falls. It also called on the city council to issue a temporary moratorium on meat-processing facilities, similar to the moratorium adopted in 2015 on new billboards, to allow for a free and fair debate.