Danish farmers turn their backs on minks after Covid mutant culling

Danish mink breeders turned their backs on the industry on a large scale after they were forced to slaughter their animals out of fear that Covid-19 mutations could pose a risk to human health.

In November 2020, Denmark, then the world’s largest mink producer, was controversially slaughtering about 15 million animals out of fear that a mink-to-human covid-19 mutation could jeopardize future vaccines. announced.

The Danish government temporarily banned mink farming and raising animals for fur, which was later extended until 2023.

Officials said there are now a handful of producers in the country who have chosen to reopen business in 2023, when the ban is lifted. Greece, Poland and North America are now expected to increase production to fill the shortfall.

The Danish Veterinary Food Authority (FVST) told The Guardian that only 13 breeders have applied for compensation to continue breeding mink in 2023. Another 1,246 breeders applied for compensation to complete mink farming.

FVST said it had found three illegal mink farming cases after culling (two in December 2021 and one in February 2022).

The Danish National Serum Institute (SSI) has confirmed that the mutant virus that triggered culling, known as cluster 5, is now considered extinct. it has not detected From September 2020.

The Danish government is expected to make a decision later this month on whether mink breeding can safely resume next year. The possibility remains that restricted breeding will be allowed.

International Fur Federation CEO Mark Oaten was optimistic about global mink farming, noting that all minks in North America are now vaccinated against COVID-19 and a vaccination program is underway in Europe. But he was pessimistic about Denmark. Even if breeding continues next year, Oten sees three barriers to reopening.

“The first problem is that in Denmark it is very difficult to get feed because the infrastructure is gone,” he said. The second difficulty is that the government’s decision on restarting is only made after the compensation deadline, making restarting a ‘huge gamble’. A third factor, he said, is a generational problem with many farmers reaching retirement age.

More broadly, Oaten said it was a “very complicated time” for the fur sector. The Danish mink is short of around 10 million pelts due to sanctions and lockdowns on its two largest markets, Russia and China.

In the long run, Oaten said: [of pelts] But that will take years.” Oaten said the Danish government is not afraid of further bans in Europe, in part because of the negative impact it faces from mink culling.

Animal welfare activists say a legislative proposal to ban fur farming across Europe, including Latvia, Lithuania and Bulgaria, is currently under consideration, and compensation is a key issue.

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