16 November, 2020 – Statement from FOUR PAWS wild animal and fur expert Thomas Pietsch on the exchange of EU Agriculture Ministers on COVID-19 on mink farms at the “Agriculture and Fisheries” Council meeting on November 16:
“The presence of COVID-19 outbreaks on the EU Council of Agriculture Ministers agenda is further evidence of the need for urgent action. In recent weeks the widespread coronavirus infections on European mink farms and the associated proven mutation of the virus on Danish farms has shone a spotlight on the need for immediate measures. Many Member States emphasised the need for close-meshed and EU-wide aligned controls of mink farms so that outbreaks of the virus can be quickly detected and controlled. The German Minister of Agriculture and current President of the Council, Julia Klöckner, called for an intensive discussion on the keeping of mink. She questioned whether mink keeping still had a future at all. FOUR PAWS welcomes the fact that, in addition to the urgently needed direct measures to combat COVID-19 on mink farms, the Council Presidency also questioned the system itself. Fur farms cause massive animal suffering and an enormous health risk for humans. A large majority of EU citizens reject fur farms, in many EU member states they are already illegal. FOUR PAWS therefore calls on the Member States, the EU Commission and the Parliament to support the immediate closure of all European fur farms so that the production of a non-essential luxury product like fur cannot pose an additional danger to society. The interests of the fur industry have for far too long taken precedence over animal welfare, they must not also take precedence over the preservation of public health.
FOUR PAWS criticises the fact that the European Commission recently approved a five million euro program of direct aid to the Lithuanian fur industry to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic. In the Council, Klöckner emphasised that the world is observing how the EU is dealing with this particular challenge. For FOUR PAWS, the only solution here is to use EU and national aid to provide alternative sources of income for fur farmers instead of keeping a dying, animal-despising industry artificially alive. There is no better time to put a stop to the entire industry once and for all and to end animal cruelty in favour of the prevention of health disasters”.
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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org