Smart Growth Speaks Out on Slaughterhouses at City Council

SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota – During today’s city council meeting, Smart Growth Sioux Falls member and legal counsel Brendan Johnson urged city leaders to stand up for the rights of local voters to reject new slaughterhouses.

“More than 10,000 Sioux Falls residents signed our petition to put this issue on the November ballot,” said Johnson, himself a former U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota. “And more than 78 percent of city voters polled support moving slaughterhouses outside city limits.”

Johnson outlined a variety of concerns raised by residents who oppose new slaughterhouses within city limits. Those include negative impacts on the city’s odors, housing, water quality, traffic, and future economic development.

“Wholestone plans to process six million pigs a year,” said Johnson. “That will generate a massive amount of wastewater discharge. How will that make the Big Sioux healthier?”

Johnson also questioned why the city has not offered an independent, scientific evaluation of the impact that Wholestone’s plans would have on the community.

“If an evaluation has been done, why not just share it with the voters?” asked Johnson. “If one hasn’t been done, then let’s press pause on this project and do a study before we proceed. It’s only common sense. And it’s the responsible thing for elected officials to do.”

Specifically, Johnson called on city leaders to protect the integrity of the city’s upcoming vote on new slaughterhouses from an attempt to grandfather in a 6-million-hog-per-year facility with a so-called “custom butcher shop.” He urged the council to issue a moratorium on meat-processing facilities, similar to the moratorium adopted in 2015 on new billboards.

“It is your responsibility to press pause and let voters decide this issue,” said Johnson. “That means you need to shut down this transparent attempt to side-step the election. My request is simple: press pause—issue a moratorium for two months. This will give our community the ability to have a free and fair debate over the ‘custom butcher shop.’ There is precedent for a moratorium. In 2015, the city put a temporary stop on all new billboards in the city.”

Smart Growth Sioux Falls is the official municipal ballot question committee for the promotion of forward-thinking, sustainable development within Sioux Falls city limits. With more than 10,000 signatures, the group’s petition drive was an unqualified success, ensuring voters will have an opportunity on their ballot this November to reject new slaughterhouses. Those efforts are backed by a wide array of Sioux Falls businesses and organizations.