World’s Biggest Mink Producer Has ‘No Future’ After Coronavirus

The mink industry in Denmark, the world’s biggest producer, has effectively been wiped out after a mass slaughter of the animals to fight the coronavirus was rushed through.

“It’s a terrible and difficult situation, with the industry being shut down in a single blow,” said Tage Pedersen, the chairman of the Danish Fur Breeders’ Association.

“There’s no way back,” he said in an emailed comment. “Even if a few farmers somehow survive, there’s still no future. We can only survive if we have a large, robust business.”

Denmark is fighting a new mutation of the coronavirus found in its mink farms. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen says the variant has the potential to derail efforts to develop a Covid vaccine. The only option left, she says, is to cull the country’s entire mink population of roughly 17 million animals.

The Danish Fur Breeders’ Association estimated on Wednesday that about two-thirds of that population -- both infected and healthy animals -- have been culled. That’s after farmers acted on a government order which has since been retracted because it broke the law. Local media reported that all infected mink -- roughly 8 million -- would be dead by late Wednesday.

The fate of the animals, some of which were killed in such haste that there were eye-witness reports of thousands of mink carcasses strewn across a public motorway, provides a graphic reminder of the real-world consequences of a string of political missteps in Denmark that could have global consequences.

Condemnation

Frederiksen’s handling of the crisis has drawn condemnation from a united parliament. Her government, which initially offered financial incentives to farmers to start culling as soon as possible, has since said it didn’t know the order to kill all Denmark’s mink required new legislation. An emergency bill needing a three-quarters majority has failed, and the legislative process is now in limbo.