British Columbia is phasing out its fur farming industry – Totally Vegan Buzz
COVID-19 positive mink 'likely' to have infected Dutch farm worker
Image: Nicolai Dybdal / shutterstock

The announcement comes due to the COVID-19 risk posed by mink farms.

British Columbia is phasing out mink fur farming following “recommendations of public health officials and infectious disease experts.”

The announcement follows data from the BC Centre for Disease Control, which identified the potential for the COVID-19 virus to mutate in mink and be passed back to people, along with additional concerns that mutations could have an impact on vaccine effectiveness.

Of the nine mink farms in BC, three were infected with COVID-19 this year. 

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said: “(We thought) we would likely be dealing with one-to-two outbreaks per year in the small number of farms that we have here in British Columbia.

“However, we have had another outbreak on an additional farm that has not been able to be cleared, despite increased biosecurity measures, ongoing testing, vaccination of staff and the many, many different measures that we’ve put in place.

“Mink farming continues to be a health hazard…we don’t see that assessment changing in the short term.

According to the phase-out plan, the Canadian Province will shut down all its live mink farms by April 2023. All operations, including the sale of pelts, will cease by 2025.

‘Best interest of public health’

Lana Popham is BC’s Minister of Agriculture, Food, and Fisheries. She said: “We know that it is in the best interest of public health that this decision is made.”

“Our government will work with affected farmers and workers to help them pursue other farming, business or job opportunities that support their families,” she added.

Many mink fur farms around the world have been hit by COVID-19, prompting several countries including France, the Netherlands, and Hungary, to announce similar bans. 

‘End mink farming’

 Animal Wellness Action, the Center for a Humane Economy, and the Animal Wellness Foundation welcomed the news. 

Scott Beckstead, director of campaigns for Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy said: “British Columbia did the right thing for public health and animal welfare by taking decisive action to end mink farming.

“The province’s decision sets an example to spur the United States into action by passing the MINKS Act (H.R. 4310), a bill currently pending in the U.S. House, that would similarly bring mink farming in the U.S. to an end.”

Backlash

Mink breeders “shocked, angered and devastated” , slammed the province’s decision, calling it radical and unnecessary.

“We’ve had less than 5% of our Canadian (mink fur) farms become positive with COVID-19. I think that’s commendable,” Matt Moses, a Nova Scotia mink farmer and former president of the Canada Mink Breeders Association said. 

He added that the move to shut down mink fur farms was politically driven.

“This life-changing decision for our BC producers was based on pressure from activist groups and vocal minority groups.

“It’s not based on science, research, or facts.”

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