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Update: On Thursday, February 3, 2022, the amendment to ban mink farming was secured to the America COMPETES Act!

For the first time in Congressional history, the U.S. House is taking up a bill to ban a category of factory farming of animals for food or fiber. It’s an amendment, offered by Representatives Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., Nancy Mace, R-S.C., and Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, to ban mink farming in the United States.

“Great to see the U.S following in the footsteps of other countries by supporting a very important public health intervention to reduce the spread of disease and preventing the unnecessary suffering of animals. Congrats to Wayne, Marty and the entire team at Animal Wellness Action,” said Preeta Sinha, founder of One Green Planet.

Animal advocates concerned about the cruelty of factory farms and the frivolity of fur should take action today. The vote is imminent.

Mink farming and SARS-CoV-2

SARS-CoV-2 is, by and large, a virus that affects two species: humans (Homo sapiens) and American mink (Neovison vison).

Public health authorities tracking the progression of the COVID-19 virus in humans estimate 10 percent of 7.8 billion people in the world have been infected.  There has been a parallel progression of the virus in mink, with infected mink farmworkers passing the virus to captive mink on fur farms.

In North America and Europe, there have been approximately six to seven million mink infected with SARS-CoV-2, with approximately 675,000 dying from the virus. That’s more than 10 percent of the global population of about 60 million mink kept in factory farms from Utah and New Brunswick to Denmark and Finland to Russia and China.

These startling numbers contrast with perhaps just 100-500 known COVID-19 infections among all other non-human animals, including big cats, domesticated dogs and cats, White-tailed deer, gorillas, and ferrets. Perhaps more importantly, there has been no spill-back from these other species. They appear to be dead-end hosts, while humans and mink are bilateral spreaders of the virus.

Mink farms have already spawned three variants – in Denmark, France, and the United States.

Cruelty and Contagions

If SARS-CoV-2 could design its perfect habitat, it might closely resemble a mink factory farm: highly stressed, immuno-suppressed inbred hosts with thousands of other such potential hosts kept in very small cages. This environment maximizes chances for intraspecific aggression, viral infections, and mutations.

Denmark’s mass shutdown of its industry in 2020 – requiring the abrupt gassing of 17 million mink – was the first major act of animal disaster response, after SARS-CoV-2 infected hundreds of farms and a variant started ricocheting through the Scandinavian nation. Netherlands followed and killed its four million mink as a COVID-19 containment strategy.

Over time, nearly 20 nations in Europe have decided that mink farms must go.

Inaction by U.S. Could Cause U.S. Mink Farms to Surge in Number

 If Europe bans these mink farms, and the United States fails to act, then we might see the U.S. mink farming industry, which has been in steady decline, rise again.

Mink are wild, solitary, territorial, and aggressive carnivores. Housing them in groups in small cages is a prescription for aggression and even cannibalism. There are kept in these tight quarters for a maximum lifespan of eight months, with less powerful and aggressive animals especially vulnerable.

A small number of farmers continue to cram these uniquely vulnerable non-human carnivores on factory farms to generate a luxury product that few people want or need and that generates negligible income for a few dozen farmers. Eighty percent of all of the pelts go to a thin strata of luxury consumers in China, yet Americans in our homeland face the startlingly dangerous disease and ecological risks presented by these live-wildlife fur producers.

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Marty Irby, Speaker Pelosi, and Wayne Pacelle celebrating after the vote

Please use this form to contact your U.S. Senators today and encourage them to Support a ban on mink farming in the United States!

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