POET, JDS Industries among companies funding opposition to Wholestone pork plant

Source: Argus Leader
An organization trying to stop the construction of a $500 million pork processing plant in northeastern Sioux Falls has raised more than $90,000 to aid their efforts against Wholestone Farms, the vast majority of it from a handful of local companies including JDS Industries and POET.

Smart Growth Sioux Falls’ first campaign finance disclosure report was filed Tuesday afternoon. The report is the first indication of who is funding the opposition to the construction of the plant, which leaders have refrained to share until now.

Nearly all of the funding comes from five contributions from entities: POET LLC, and JDS Industries, each of which donated $25,000, Elgethun Capital and Cellular Only 41st, each of which donated $10,000 and GL Management, LLC, which donated $5,000.

Poet headquarters

Another $10,000 was donated by Todd Broin, the younger brother of POET CEO Jeff Broin. Other donors include $2,000 from philanthropist Joe Kirby and $2,500 from David Bockorny, the CEO of a Washington, D.C.-based government affairs consulting firm.

The group also reported $825 in donations that were less than $100.

The group has spent $56,149.08 on salaries and $24,565.92 on consulting, according to the report, with $2,461.22 spent on advertising.

Smart Growth Sioux Falls successfully petitioned for a ballot question this November that will ask Sioux Falls voters whether it should be prohibited to operate or build new slaughterhouses within city limits, claiming that the Wholestone plant would negatively affect the area’s water quality and odor.

The ballot question has drawn more and more discussion in recent weeks, as the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce urged its members — POET among them — to vote against the measure, which they said “changes the rules in the middle of the game for a business that has followed all regulations set forth to date.”

And Gov. Kristi Noem said last week the ballot measure “puts every single project we do in South Dakota in jeopardy in the future,” adding she’s aware of projects that have already pulled out of the state after watching the fight.

For its part, Wholestone officials have announced plans to have a “custom slaughterhouse” operational sometime in October. Board chairman Luke Minion said previously, “the petition of the group is quite clear that an existing slaughterhouse can be expanded.”

In response, Brendan Johnson, an attorney for Smart Growth Sioux Falls, asked the Sioux Falls City Council to place a moratorium on the project on Tuesday night during public input, although the council took no action on the matter.