Phasing Out Mink Farms

AWI spearheaded the introduction in June of the Mink VIRUS Act (HR 3783), sponsored by Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY). This bill would establish a one-year phaseout of mink fur farms in the United States and create a grant program to reimburse mink farmers for the full value of their farms. A growing body of science shows that mink are particularly high-risk “mixing vessels,” producing dangerous variants of respiratory diseases that are potentially transmissible to humans—including COVID-19 and H5N1, a deadly strain of avian influenza. Mink fur farms—where mink are kept in close quarters and often unsanitary conditions—thus threaten to worsen the current pandemic and usher in the next one. In fact, COVID-19 has already infected millions of farmed mink, and there have been several recorded instances of the mink passing a mutated form of this virus back to humans. In addition, in October 2022, mink on a Spanish fur farm contracted H5N1—which has infected few humans but killed more than half of those infected. This was the first time this virus spread widely between mammals, and it could invade other mink farms and become even more transmissible. Scientists are sounding the alarm on this H5N1 outbreak, calling it a “clear mechanism for an H5 pandemic to start.”