Photo courtesy of Elizabeth MeighenPhoto courtesy of Elizabeth Meighen

A Momentous Day for South Dakota Beef

On May 4, 2023, I witnessed what I consider to be a significant, historical event for all South Dakotans. The South Dakota cattle industry, including supporting industries such as the 32 state licensed processing plants, received a figurative and literal stamp of approval as the first South Dakota beef qualified for interstate shipment. At that time, it was standing room only at the Wall Meat Processing Plant as owner Ken Charfauros, plant employees, local beef producers and representatives from various state offices crowded onto the kill floor to witness the approval of that first beef and applaud the arduous efforts expended by Charfauros. He and many others basked in that brief, ten second moment, finally realizing the fruit of their labors. Two years of applications, inspections and scrutinization led to the approval of the Wall plant as the first South Dakota meat processing plant that may exclusively ship their processed product across state lines to any point within the U.S. when done in accordance with the Cooperative Interstate Shipping (CIS) Program. The CIS Program is part of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Nationwide, there are 29 eligible states that “have established a Meat and Poultry Inspection program” but only nine states, including South Dakota, have plant facilities approved for the CIS Program.  
After onlookers witnessed the stamp of approval at the plant, many proceeded to the Wall Community Center where Wall Mayor Mary Williams began the press conference with accolades for Charfauros, the employees of Wall Meat Processing Plant and others credited for the efforts expended to obtain the certification. Williams welcomed the members of the Wall City Council, the Wall Economic Development Corporation, Lt. Governor Larry Rhoden, representatives attending on behalf of U.S. Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds, U.S. Representative Dusty  Johnson and the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association President, Eric Jennings.  
Lt. Governor Rhoden took to the podium, hailing the victorious moment for the South Dakota beef industry. As a rancher, he feels that the CIS certification has “been a long time coming”. He continued that the “American meat supply is a matter of national security because if we don’t control our own meat supply, we don’t control our own destiny.” He continued, noting the farmers and ranchers in the state of South Dakota help feed the world. In South Dakota, the cattle population exceeds the human population four to one, proof that our beef exports can help feed the world. Rhoden added that ranchers need access to market to sell cattle but “practices in the meat packing industry are affecting South Dakota,” as four meat packing facilities account for approximately 85 percent of the market. He feels it is a bad practice as “packers make record profits while ranchers are barely scraping by.” He stressed the need for more competition and more transparency within the market.  
Next, Charfauros addressed the audience during the press conference and expressed his gratitude for the hospitality extended to them in 2017 after their purchase of Wall Meat Processing Plant. Since then, Charfauros championed many firsts in the community of Wall, Pennington County and the state of South Dakota. In 2019, Charfauros approached the Wall School District, requesting that the plant be able to provide a locally sourced protein product to be included in the school lunch menu. Now, there are 20 schools in the state that participate in similar programs. When the Red Rock Café in Wall came up for sale, Charfauros saw it as a unique opportunity and purchased it. Now, they serve locally processed meat products to local diners and tourists. Wall Meats again expanded their horizons and opened a butcher shop in Rapid City to expand their market into Pennington County. In 2021, Wall Meats partnered with Western Dakota Technical School to implement a meat processing program to teach the next generation of meat processors. Now, Wall Meats is the only meat processing facility within the state of South Dakota to be certified to ship locally sourced meat to nationwide retailers. Since the purchase of the Wall Meat Processing Plant in 2017, Charfauros proved to be a true trailblazer in the community, the county and the state. Humbly, he credited those around him, namely Jan and his family, for those successes. To me, that humility is the sign of a truly remarkable individual who deserves thanks from the masses who enjoy a juicy hamburger or a thick steak from South Dakota.

The Pioneer Review

221 E. Oak Street
Philip, SD 57567
Telephone: (605) 859-2516
E Mail:

Sign Up For Breaking News

Stay informed on our latest news!

Manage my subscriptions

Subscribe to Newsletter feed
Comment Here