Netherlands to shut down entire mink farming industry by next March over coronavirus outbreaks

Harriet Brewis
·2-min read

All mink fur farms in the Netherlands have been ordered to close by March next year after animals at dozens of locations contracted coronavirus.

An estimated two million of the ferret-like animals, which are bred for their fur, have been culled across the country since April, according to animal welfare NGO Humane Society International (HSI).

The Netherlands had already intended to shut down its entire mink breeding industry by 2024, but decided to bring forward the closures to next year following Covid-19 outbreaks on 41 fur farms.

Scientists are now investigating whether the small animals can not only contract the disease from people, but also spread them back to other humans, after a number of farm employees contracted the virus.

In Spain, an outbreak at a farm near the village of La Puebla de Valverde led to the slaughter of almost 100,000 mink after around 90 per cent of the animals were found to be infected, along with seven staff members.

Last month, HSI said infection risks, and the conditions in which mink are bred, meant immediate action to end fur farming was needed.

The NGO's public affairs director, Dr Joanna Swabe, described fur farms as potential “reservoirs for coronavirusess” which are also “inherently cruel”.

All dutch mink fur farms are to be shut down permanently by March 2021 (AP)
All dutch mink fur farms are to be shut down permanently by March 2021 (AP)

Responding to the Dutch Government’s announcement to close all fur farms within the next six months, Dr Swabe said in a statement: “We commend the government on its decision to end this incredibly cruel and completely unnecessary industry and protect citizens.

“With 41 fur farms and an estimated two million mink now having been infected, the risk of keeping these virus reservoirs operating, is far too great.

“Over the past weeks, the Dutch government has failed to act as infection numbers rose.

“Without this early termination of fur farming, up to 13.5 million more animals would be forced to suffer short and miserable lives solely to supply the fickle fashion industry.

“It is a sick industry both literally and figuratively.

“There has never been a more compelling time for the Netherlands to shut down this industry for good.”

The government has set aside around £161 million (€180 million) to compensate farmers, Dutch news agency ANP reported.

The Netherlands currently exports around £80 million worth of fur each year for use in China and across the world, according to the Dutch Federation of Pelt Farmers.

The country had roughly 900,000 mink at 130 farms, Statistics Netherlands data said.

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