wholestone farms

Benefits of Modern Processing Technology

Modern technology advancements are used in farming operations to aid South Dakota farmers to be more sustainable. While the technology that is used in their operation today is different from generations preceding them, changes being implemented are aiding in efficiency and enhancing their bottom line. Technology advancements are also being implemented within modern processing facilities. 

In this blog, we interviewed Wholestone Farms to share their company’s insights into the benefits they provide to the communities they serve, what steps Wholestone Farms takes to ensure quality in their products, and the practices they put in place to ensure safe and consistent processes in their facility.


Why did Wholestone Farms choose Sioux Falls to build a swine processing plant?

Sioux Falls is an ideal location for our farm families and team members. Wholestone Farms is owned by 200 family farmers that are proudly located in the Midwest. Approximately 70 of our farmer-owners live within a 50-mile radius of Sioux Falls.  

Wholestone Farms will help secure your family’s access to safe, affordable, locally-grown food.


What benefits does a plant like Wholestone Farms bring to the community?

The new pork processing facility will have a $1.5 billion annual economic impact, bring over 1,000 full-time jobs, and an anticipated capital of $500 million. Wholestone Farms is committed to being an engaged community partner. This is a belief that resonates with our farmer-owners, leadership, and team members. One of the initiatives of our Sustainability Program incorporates community involvement and philanthropy efforts. We were proud in 2021 to collectively volunteer in our communities in excess of 50,000 hours. We also provided $3,000,000 in monetary donations, and over 490,000LBS of delicious pork products were donated to our communities. Wholestone Farms believes in supporting and caring for the communities that we live, work and play in.

As Wholestone Farms rolls out our retail program, we will be able to provide the communities we reside in with local, nutritious and delicious pork products.  As surveys indicate, consumers prefer to have food products sourced locally.  By having a pork facility that is owned by local farm families in the Midwest, they will be able to have confidence and trust in the pork products coming from Wholestone Farms.  


What things have Wholestone Farms done to assist communities where they have plants?

Wholestone Farms is an active and engaged community partner. We intend on setting up a new office in Sioux Falls and engaging with civic, business, environmental and non-profit leaders well in advance of commencing construction of our facility. We have every intention of working closely with groups such as, but not limited to, Lutheran Social Services, the Multi-Cultural Center, Sioux Falls School District, and other stakeholders in an effort to provide future employees and their families the resources necessary to optimize their full potential in the community. Wholestone Farms has a rich tradition of being engaged and supportive of area nonprofits in the communities where we operate.

Wholestone Farms will create jobs and increase local spending in Sioux Falls, boosting our shops and stores with dollars that will be spent throughout our community. The plant will generate millions in tax revenue to pay for more schools, parks, and public safety personnel to keep our families safe.


What new technologies have evolved in swine processing?

The Wholestone Farms facility in Sioux Falls will be the most advanced livestock protein processing facility in the US.  This means that the structure, technology, processes, and aesthetics of the building and site will be unlike any other facility that Sioux Falls residents have ever seen. The site surrounding the new facility will include low-impact design features such as Bioretention cells, vegetative swales, native plantings, buffer strips, and other green solutions that result in cleaner air, water, and improved habitat. While the surrounding land uses are industrial in nature, our farmer-owners are sensitive to designing an operation that is environmentally conscientious.

The wastewater system will include covered lagoons. It will be designed and maintained with the latest technologies to minimize odor. Livestock delivery trucks will also be scheduled and staged to minimize odor.

Wholestone Farms’ entire operation will be designed to exceed the Title V air permitting requirements for the state of South Dakota. Our design will incorporate wet scrubbers and thermal oxidation technologies for emissions and odor control. These technologies, combined with good management practices, will provide many distinct advantages to older facilities.


Can you briefly explain your five pillars of sustainability?

Our efforts and focus on our sustainability goals will be measured by the animals we care for, the food we produce, the lives we touch, and the environment we protect. Through this lens, we have established five pillars of our sustainability program. Our five pillars include animal welfare, environment, community involvement, food safety and quality assurance, and good employment practices.


How is Wholestone actively working to make improvements in animal welfare?

Animal welfare encompasses health and disease prevention, animal handling, managing the environment in the animal’s live, and so much more. Our efforts to make improvements have included the following:

  • Collaboration in research with our farmer-owners
  • Involvement in industry efforts for disease prevention and preparedness (US SHIP, etc.)
  • Partnering with Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO) on training efforts
  • Collaboration with engineers and animal welfare experts to work towards continuous improvement of animal handling tools and procedures.

The plant supports the future of Agriculture – our #1 industry, connecting livestock producers with locally-owned processing to keep jobs and profits at home.


How can consumers be more informed about the food they purchase/consume?

Wholestone Farms believes that it is very important to educate the consumer about the entire pork industry. This includes not only information about pork but how pigs are raised and cared for. We are so passionate about this concept that our vision celebrates “Bringing the consumer closer to the farmer.” We believe it is our role to be transparent and open with the consumer, providing them with an intimate understanding of the pork industry. Our website includes a Pig 101 section that is focused on the facts about pigs and how they are raised. We also provide a section specifically targeted to pork; this is to provide information about nutrition, cuts, preparation, and recipes. As our brand evolves and we move into retail, we are committed to having interfaces and information that will allow the consumer to learn more about Wholestone Farms and our unique integration and provide true transparency to the consumer.


What does modern technology mean to you?

Technology has been truly important to the evolution of farming and the agri-food community.  When you look at the number of people our pig farmers and our facility can feed both locally & globally is truly inspiring. Technology has hands down improved efficiency, productivity, quality, variety, and overall safety. It is amazing the advances that have been made due to the evolution of technology in our industry. Even though we have embraced all the benefits technology has provided, we are still proud of the tradition and craftsmanship that lives in farming and the art of butchery skills. We feel Wholestone Farms is the perfect marriage of technology and tradition.


What technological advancements do you hope for in the future of the modern
processing industry?

As we look to the future, there are exciting industry concepts that improve employee safety, food safety, traceability from farm to plate, and overall product flow. Wholestone Farms is actively engaged in purchasing and researching new technologies to enhance employee experience, create sustainable solutions, and provide premium pork products across the world. A few of the latest purchases include robotics to aid in physically demanding positions, carcass wash cabinets to improve food safety, and state-of-the-art linear cut floors. 

Modern processing facilities like Wholestone have a momentous positive impact on the community it provides for, all while making sure they follow best practices for safe and quality products.

 

To learn more about how local farmers are also using modern processing technology, check out our blog featuring local South Dakota farmers Brent and Mollie Greenway on how they focus on sustainability and animal care or this blog on Animal Husbandry: Livestock Health and Care.