Dutch mink farmers will no longer be allowed to breed mink, effectively ending the farmed mink fur industry in what was once the fourth largest mink farming country in the world.
Partij voor de Dieren (direct translation: Party for the Animals) announced June 23, 2020, on their website that the Dutch House of Representatives voted to prohibit the breeding of mink for fur – nearly three full years before the industry was set to be phased out.
The novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 broke out across 17 mink farms, killing hundreds of thousands of mink prematurely in recent weeks, Partij voor de Dieren explained.
“It is a huge breakthrough: the killing of animals for their fur in the Netherlands is finally coming to an end," says group chairman Esther Ouwehand. “Besides being morally reprehensible, mink farming is now simply untenable because it poses a threat to public health. Stopping mink farming now and not until 2024 will save millions of minks a miserable life.”
The Fur Free Alliance, a European-based advocacy group of which The Fur-Bearers is a member, notes the 128 mink farms were finally shut down as a result of the quick and dangerous spread of COVID-19 on farms, starting in April. Their public statement also said that Dutch MPs voted “overwhelmingly” in favour of shutting down farms, prioritizing animal welfare over industry.
“Finally, the majority of our representatives recognises that the intensive breeding of animals leads to animal and human suffering,” says a statement from Sandra Schoenmaker, director of Dutch animal protection organisation Bont voor Dieren. “Fortunately, this industry nowneeds to shut down as soon as possible, for the sake of animals and human health. Waiting until 2024 for the mink ban to take effect would have been unjustifiable and irresponsible.”
This momentous announcement casts a shadow over the situation in Canada, where, despite growing concerns and changes in Europe, British Columbia has done little to protect mink, workers and the surrounding communities. A letter from BC Agriculture Minister Lana Popham outlined some tasks mink farmers are expected to undertake, but as a Freedom of Information Act request revealed, BC’s 13 mink farms had not been inspected by the province since at least 2018 leading into this crisis.
The Fur-Bearers will continue to provide updates on other nations’ attempts to address animal welfare head on through prohibitions and legislation, while most of Canada relies on the compliance of those who profit from caging and killing animals for their fur.