Wholestone Farms to open custom butcher shop at future processing plant site

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Wholestone Farms plans to open a custom butcher shop at the location planned for its future pork processing plant — before a November election that could prohibit the company from expanding here.

Construction is starting “imminently” on the shop, which will be located on the 170-acre property in northeast Sioux Falls near Benson Road and Interstate 229, near Gage Brothers Concrete Materials.

Butchering will begin there before a November election, when a proposed ordinance expected to be placed on the ballot could lead to meat processing plants being prohibited within the city limits.

The proposed ordinance follows more than 10,000 people signing petitions but does not apply to existing facilities in town, including Smithfield.

“I don’t want to fight. I’ve said that all along,” Wholestone CEO Luke Minion said. “I just want a project, and this is a path we identified and think it’s very legally appropriate, and we feel good about it.”

The custom butcher shop will allow customers to select a Wholestone farmer and order a pig turned into Wholestone-branded products — from pork chops to pork loins.

“It’s a small building and a very small thing, very small scale,” Minion said.

“We plan to stay focused on this accelerated business plan. This seems like the right way to solve the issue for our farmers and do something good for the community.”

The farm-raised pork will include some specialty products, he continued, adding the plan is to keep the custom butcher shop open even once the estimated $500 million facility is operational, which could be 2025 if current timelines hold.

“The cool part is it’s a way on a small scale to start introducing the great pork products these farmers have, and for those with interest, it’s going to be really easy (to order).” Minion said. “I’m excited about it. We think it’s a great way to interact with the community in a nontraditional way. A large corporation wouldn’t think this way, but a family farm group will, so I think it’s here to stay.”

In a statement, Robert Peterson, treasurer of the Smart Growth Sioux Falls campaign, said: “This smells like a hastily concocted attempt to thwart the will of over 10,000 concerned citizens of Sioux Falls who believe the city voters should have a say on any future slaughterhouses in Sioux Falls.”