South Dakota might not be facing the fallout from the Northern Beef Packers bankruptcy if former Governor M. Michael Rounds had been a yokel and bought local... or in this case, invested local. Carrie Stadheim of Tri-State Livestock News learns from Herreid cattleman Bob Thullner that he and some local business associates had a plan to build a smaller slaughterhouse to support the local beef market in the mid-2000s, but that state officials preferred to deal with out-of-state investors:
The Campbell County producer was frustrated a decade ago, however, with the state’s financing choices, saying that in the early 2000s, he and a group of independent producers had entered into final discussions with the state regarding financing for a smaller packing plant that would have processed about 150 head per day. “It came to the point that an outside investor was going to build a plant in the state and the governor and ag department thought they had something going with them, and just kind of let us drop.”
Thullner is disappointed with the then-governor Mike Rounds, who was busy promoting his own dream of a South Dakota certified beef label (which never materialized) and didn’t work with the industry to grow a packing plant supported by local producers, but instead forged ahead with a project funded by east coast investors [Carrie Stadheim, "SD Packing Plant Files for Chapter 11," Tri-State Livestock News, 2013.07.23].
Stadheim talks to now-Senate candidate Rounds, who offers no response as to why he picked the outside money over local development. He just golly-gees that everyone in the ag industry goes through tough times, shrugs at the possibility that a big packing company will buy Northern Beef Packers, aw-shuckses that he doesn't recall how much the state sunk into NBP (here's a reminder, Mike), and maintains that NBP and his failed South Dakota Certified Beef program are "valid concepts."
Valid, yes... but only if you're a foreign investor promising big investments with big commissions and who won't be around to watch you as closely as South Dakota investors.