Mink VIRUS Act (Federal)
Ban on mink farming to protect public health and human safety from the risks of disease transmission, including COVID-19 and avian flu, to people and wild mink populations, as well as to address concerns of animal well-being.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund strongly supports the Mink VIRUS Act.
Sponsor: Rep. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13)
Introduction Date: June 1, 2023
Congress is considering a ban on mink farming to protect public health and human safety from the risks of disease transmission, including COVID-19 and avian flu, to people and wild mink populations, as well as to address concerns of animal well-being and wasted taxpayer resources.
Mink farming, an industry in which minks are cruelly killed for their fur, has proven to be a danger to public health and a waste of taxpayer money.
The Mink: Vectors for Infection Risk in the United States Act, known as the Mink VIRUS Act (H.R. 3783), would prohibit the farming of minks for fur after a one-year phase-out period, while also creating a grant program that would reimburse mink farmers to help with their transition out of the industry. The bill also sets guidelines for euthanizing minks in the most humane way possible. H.R. 3783 was assigned to the Committee on Agriculture.
Mink farms confine animals in overcrowded, unsanitary cages where they live out their lives with no access to their natural environment and no ability to engage in natural behaviors. The results of housing minks in these poor conditions include:
- stress-induced self-mutilation, injuries, and illness.
- creating a breeding ground for zoonotic diseases, such as COVID-19 and avian flu.
Tens of thousands of minks in the United States, and millions worldwide, have been infected with COVID-19, and they can pass a mutated form to humans.
Mink-to-human transmission of the COVID-19 virus has been reported in Denmark, the Netherlands, Poland, and the United States. Minks who escape from farms are capable of infecting wild animal populations, with a wild mink captured in 2020 having tested positive for a variant of COVID-19 indistinguishable from the virus found in nearby infected farmed mink populations.
Mink farming is a dying industry that continues to be propped up by taxpayer money. The demand for mink fur has been in decline since the 1980s, with 2020 seeing a nearly 20% reduction in production value from the previous year. Taxpayers have unwittingly been subsidizing the industry, with millions of dollars in loan forgiveness and compensation.