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POET, JDS Industries leading contributors to campaign to ban future slaughterhouses in Sioux Falls

Finance report details for first time who is funding Smart Growth Sioux Falls. The committee is fighting plans by Wholestone Farms to build pork processing plant in northeast corner of the city.

POET CEO Jeff Broin stands for a portrait inside of his office at POET's Sioux Falls headquarters.
POET CEO Jeff Broin stands for a portrait inside of his office at POET's Sioux Falls headquarters.
Matt Gade / Mitchell Republic
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Two Sioux Falls companies have contributed more than half the total donations to support a ban on all future slaughterhouses in the city limits.

Biofuels producer POET and JDS Industries each contributed $25,000 to Smart Growth Sioux Falls, the committee formed to put the slaughterhouse question on the Nov. 8 ballot.

The committee raised a total of $93,825 through Aug. 31, according to documents filed with the City Clerk’s office on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

The ballot initiative is a response to Wholestone Farms plans to develop a pork processing plant near the Benson Road exit on Interstate 229. Opponents of the plant express concerns about odor, water quality and traffic. The main facility will be built with the latest technology for odor mitigation and waste water treatment, company officials say.

POET’s headquarters is located about 2 miles northwest of the site where Wholestone is building a custom butchery with plans to expand to a plant that will process up to 6 million pigs per year. Also, the company’s founder and CEO Jeff Broin’s home is about 1.25 miles southeast of the site, in the gated community of Imani Ridge.

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JDS Industries is a wholesaler of trophies and other awards, promotional items, gifts and similar products. The Sioux Falls office and warehouse is near the POET headquarters. The company is owned by Scott Sletten and Mike May, according to its website.

The campaign finance report filed Tuesday, Sept. 6, is the first glimpse into the finances of Smart Growth Sioux Falls.

“We’re incredibly grateful to have such a broad coalition of supporters in Sioux Falls who have contributed to this cause, by gathering petitions, donating to the campaign, or just educating their neighbors about a major threat to our community,” campaign treasurer Robert Peterson said in a statement. “We’re proud of our progress so far, and with more residents contributing each day, we’re confident that we’ll have the resources needed to stand up against new slaughterhouses near our homes, businesses, and recreational areas.”

The largest individual donation was $10,000 from Todd Broin, a brother of Jeff Broin.

Smart Growth gathered 10,000 signatures to put the ban on the ballot. Previously, the backers were only identified on a list of 57 businesses and organizations who signed on to a letter to Mayor Paul TenHaken and the City Council. Individual names were not included.

The involvement of Jeff Broin was a secret in name only, however, as word has spread among city leaders and the agriculture community.

Agriculture commodity groups, such as the South Dakota Pork Producers and the South Dakota Soybean Association, are disheartened by the involvement of Broin , who built the largest ethanol producer in the world with an estimated annual revenue of more than $8 billion. Farmers supply POET with the corn and biomass needed to produce ethanol. But they are also the customers who buy dried distillers grain as feed from one of the 33 ethanol plants across the Midwest.

Other backers of the Wholestone plant are critical of Broin’s support of the ban, saying it’s a not-in-my-backyard reaction that is bad for business in Sioux Falls and harmful to agriculture in general.

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Gov. Kristi Noem alluded to Broin in an interview on a Sioux Falls radio station last week, saying it’s “sad” that a company can go through the process for several years and then face a vote that could derail the project.

Luke Minion.jpg
Luke Minion, chairman of the board of Wholestone Farms, a farmer-owned cooperative planning to build a pork processing plant in Sioux Falls.
Contributed

“That means every company in the state from now on knows that I can meet all the requirements, I can plan, I can do everything right, and at the last minute, one person can get mad, do a ballot petition, and end my investment and my business,” Noem said.

Luke Minion, chairman of the board of Wholestone echoed that comment in an interview with the Forum News Service on Friday, Sept. 2.

“The whole tragedy of this is that a wealthy homeowner on a hill can stop a local, farmer-owned project,” Minion said. “That’s what happened here. It’s just not how it should be.”

Messages seeking comment left with representatives of POET and JDS were not returned by deadline.

The next deadlines for reporting campaign finances before the election is Oct. 5 and Nov. 8. The final report is due Jan. 9.

Campaign contributors

Here is a breakdown of donors to the Smart Growth Sioux Falls campaign as of Aug. 31.

Individuals:

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  • Duane Sather: $2,000
  • David Bockorny: $2,500
  • Tyler Stowater: $500
  • Joe Kirby: $2,000
  • Todd Broin: $10,000
  • Mark Kuca: $1,000

Entities:

  • GL Management LLC: $5,000
  • Cellular Only 41st: $10,000
  • POET LLC: $25,000 
  • JDS Industries: $25,000
  • Elgethun Capital: $10,000

Unitemized: $825
Total Raised: $93,825

Expenditures: $83,797.57

Cash on hand: $10,027.43

Related Topics: SIOUX FALLSBUSINESS
Patrick Lalley is the engagement editor and reporter for the Forum News Service in Sioux Falls. Reach him at plalley@forumcomm.com.
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