Big disappointment in Sweden: Board of Agriculture decide to lift the mink farm ban
In January 2021, the positive news came that the mink farms would be closed for 2021 to reduce the risks of spreading SARS-CoV-2. The breeding animals remained on the farms, almost as a promise to the companies that they would be allowed to start up again. It has now happened.
With today's decision, the mink farms will be allowed to start their operations again on 9 November. This is in contrast to Denmark, which recently decided that their ban on keeping minks will be extended for 2022. Other countries have also taken a different path than Sweden: the Netherlands imposed a permanent ban on fur farms following the pandemic, and during the week British Columbia in Canada decided to close down mink farms due to the spread of infection.
In order for the Swedish mink farms to be able to breed mink again, certain specific restrictions have instead been extended, such as a ban on the movement of live mink and isolation of the farms. But this is clearly not sufficient.
I am deeply disappointed with today's message. There are many reasons to stop mink farms from breeding minks in cramped cages, the risk of infection spreading is just one of them. When the authorities made this decision today, they also took a stand for the mink industry to continue to conduct unethical activities in Sweden. I now urge politicians to take a new approach to the issue and introduce a permanent ban.Camilla Bergvall, National Chair of Djurens Rätt, Sweden
Minks have proven to be extra susceptible to the coronavirus. The majority of Sweden's approximately 28 mink farms have had outbreaks of infection, with consequences such as increased mortality and respiratory symptoms. Despite the breeding ban in 2021, the infection was detected on a farm during the summer.
Investigation in Sweden is ongoing
The Government has commissioned the Swedish Board of Agriculture and the Swedish Veterinary Institute to investigate the risks of the spread of infection between animals and humans in Sweden. That assignment will be presented in February 2022, and may involve further proposals for restrictions. However, there are few indications that a breeding ban will be introduced again. It will be up to politicians to implement other legislative proposals to protect minks from suffering and disease.
Djurens Rätt, with the support of at least 76% of the population, is not alone in proposing the decommissioning of mink farms for infection control and animal welfare reasons. Other examples are the Swedish Veterinary Association and several farmers.