While acknowledging that its decision to cull more than 15 million mink had no legal foundation for the healthy animals, the Danish government still has the support of parliament to go ahead with its plan and effectively eradicate an entire industry.
Hundreds of Danish farmers and mink breeders have held tractor protests against the government’s decision to cull the nation’s entire farmed mink population to halt the spread of a coronavirus mutation.
Over 500 tractors, many decked out with the Danish cross, drove past the government quarter and house of parliament in Copenhagen. Another 400 staged a similar protest in the country’s second city, Aarhus, to protest what is often referred to as “Minkgate” in the Danish media.
In the port of Copenhagen, the farmers were greeted by fishermen who set up a demonstration of their own.
Conservative MP and former Minister of Trade and Industry Rasmus Jarlov described it as “the largest non-socialist demonstration in recent times”. He also described the government’s decision to “smash the livelihood of 6,000 people” as “the largest democratic scandal in living memory”.
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s government earlier acknowledged that its decision to cull more than 15 million mink had no legal foundation for the healthy animals, but mustered the parliamentary support to move forward with its plan. Mink farming will be banned until 1 January 2022, effectively wiping out an entire industry. This infuriated the breeders in a nation that has for several decades been the world’s leading exporter of mink fur.
Despite Frederiksen promptly issuing an apology and the agriculture minister’s resignation, the plan to destroy the nation’s entire mink stock remains in place. Mette Frederiksen insisted that the cull remains “non-negotiable”.
The reason for the controversial decision is that several mutated variants of the coronavirus were discovered on mink farms across Denmark earlier this autumn and later spread to humans. As worst-case scenarios envisaged a full-scale epidemic starting over from Denmark, on 4 November, Prime Minister Mette Fredriksen announced that all farmed mink would be culled. While the government last week proclaimed that the mutated virus was “likely eradicated” the killing continued as planned.
Before the ongoing cull, Denmark used to be the largest player at 29 percent of the market, with 24.5 million produced mink skins to the tune of DKK 5.2 billion (about $800 million) in 2019.
While COVID-19 mutations have emerged in other breeder nations, Denmark remains the only one to order an all-out cull.