Funds through divisive visa system helped SD dairy

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A couple that moved their dairy operation from Northern Ireland to South Dakota says a visa program that has become an issue in a U.S. Senate race helped them start off stronger financially.

Four foreign investors put up money through the EB-5 visa program, which Dorothy Elliott and her husband used to build a larger barn to accommodate more cows.

The program lets foreign investors seek U.S. residency with a $500,000 investment in a rural project that creates at least 10 jobs.

A beef packing plant approved under the program went bust while Republican Senate candidate Mike Rounds was governor. Yet most of the state's two dozen EB-5 projects remain operational.

Rounds and Gov. Dennis Daugaard have released written answers about the program that lawmakers plan to review Wednesday.