AMSTERDAM—Dutch MPs voted overwhelmingly today in favour of shutting down the estimated 128 remaining mink fur farms in the Netherlands, following outbreaks of COVID-19 on 17 fur farms since 26 April. Two farm workers are also believed to have contracted the virus from mink, after which hundreds of thousands of mink have been killed to prevent further spread. Humane Society International/Europe says it is good riddance to an industry predicated on the out-dated idea that exploiting, depriving and killing animals for frivolous fur fashion is acceptable.
Politicians voted in favour of the early closure of farms with compensation to be paid to fur farmers to end the practice earlier than the phase out due date of 31st December 2023, despite many fur farms being worth tens of millions of euros. Mink fur farming was banned in the Netherlands in 2013, and produced around 4.5 million mink pelts in 2018.
Speaking from Amsterdam, Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for animal protection group Humane Society International/Europe, said: “The intensive breeding and caging of animals on fur farms is an incredibly cruel practice that not only causes immense suffering to animals, but can also serve as a reservoir for coronaviruses. The Dutch Parliament has today said good riddance to an industry predicated on the out-dated idea that exploiting, depriving and killing animals for frivolous fur fashion is acceptable. While we are disappointed by the suggestion that taxpayers’ hard-earned money should be used as compensation to fur farmers who have kept this cruel industry alive in the face of massive public and political opposition, this vote calls on the government to act swiftly to end this inhumane practice before the existing 2024 deadline. That is worth a celebration. The Dutch government now has to take action to honour the Parliament’s wishes.”
With clear parliamentary support for swift action, the Dutch Government will now be under pressure to ensure a ban on mink production given that this species is known to be susceptible to the coronavirus and could act as a reservoir for the disease. The Parliament also voted to maintain the ban on transporting mink and to prevent fur farms where the mink have already been culled from restocking with mink.
- SARS-CoV-2 was first identified on two mink farms in Netherlands on 26 April 2020.
- On 3 June 2020, Dutch Ministers published a final report confirming animals on the infected farms will be culled, a measure taken “in the interests of both public and animal health”.
- An estimated 60 million mink are farmed for their fur around the world, with the top three production countries China (20.6 million mink), Denmark (17.6 million mink) and Poland (5 million mink) in 2018.
- Fur farming has been banned across the UK since 2003, and has been prohibited and/or is in the process of being phased-out in the following European countries: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Croatia, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and most recently the government in Ireland has committed to ending fur farming. Bulgaria, Lithuania, Montenegro and Ukraine are also presently considering bans on fur farming. A proposal to ban fur farming in Estonia was also tabled this week. In the United States, California became the first US state to ban fur sales in 2019 following similar bans in cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and West Hollywood. In 2020, legislators in Hawaii and Rhode Island introduced fur sales ban proposals, as have cities in Minnesota and Massachusetts.
- Fur farming, however, continues in other countries with China, Denmark, Finland and Poland being the biggest producers, and globally an estimated 100 million animals are killed annually for their fur, including mink, foxes and raccoon dogs.
Download video of mink farms in the Netherlands (courtesy of Dutch organisations Bont voor Dieren and Animal Rights)
Media contact: To request an interview with HSI spokespeople (Dutch and English speakers), please contact Leozette Roode, HSI/UK: email@example.com
Latest available figures show approximately 35 million mink were farmed in 2018 in Europe, including Denmark (17.6m), Poland (5m), Netherlands (4.5m), Finland (1.85m), Greece (1.2m) and Lithuania (1.2m). Figures for the same period show that mink were farmed for their fur in China (20.7m), the United States (3.1m) and Canada (1.7m), bringing the total to approximately 60 million mink globally on fur farms.