House Passes Bill to Ban Mink Farming

Mink farms are not only cruel to animals, but they're also a public health threat.
A mink stands on ice next to rocks
Mink farms could soon be a thing of the past in the U.S. | Prazanthy Ramesh/Unsplash

Soon, mink farming could be banned in the US.

Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed the America COMPETES Act of 2022. The act aims to strengthen supply chains and innovation in an attempt to compete with China’s growing global economic influence. The House also approved an amendment to the bill that would ban mink farming across the US.

The mink fur industry is already declining in the US. In 2020, the number of mink pelts sold stood at 1.4 million, the lowest number on record. Around 80 percent of those were exported to China.

There are 60 mink farms in the US, many of them located in Wisconsin, the country’s top mink-producing state. Not only are they cruel—mink are solitary animals and suffer immensely in close confinement—but they are also a proven public health risk. In 2020, Denmark culled 17 million minks due to COVID-19 outbreaks on its farms. The animals are particularly vulnerable to the virus. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, more than 670,000 minks have died of COVID-19.

While Wisconsin farmers have tried to vaccinate their animals against the virus, this doesn’t guarantee 100 percent protection. There are also animal cruelty allegations to consider, and the fact that most mink pelts aren’t purchased by US customers.

“With virtually no domestic market, the US mink industry has been in steady decline for years,” said Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), who was among the Representatives that led the amendment. “Now is the time for this legislation to become law. I am urging all of my colleagues to continue supporting this bipartisan effort.”

The end of fur farming?

If the amendment is signed into law, the US will follow several countries that have passed fur farming bans.

In November, France announced a ban on mink farms. And in December, the Italian Senate approved a budget law amendment that would permanently ban fur farming in Italy. As well as mink, the amendment covers other fur-bearing animals, like foxes and chinchillas.

At the time, Martina Pluda, the president of the Humane Society International Italy, said the Senate’s vote was a “historic victory for animal protection in Italy.”

She added: “The vote recognizes that allowing the mass breeding of wild animals for frivolous fur fashion represents a risk to both animals and people that can’t be justified by the limited economic benefits it offers to a small minority of people involved in this cruel industry.”

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