Petition against gov't compensation scheme for closing mink farms signed by thousands
A petition against the government's announced scheme to compensate mink farmers for having to close earlier than planned, was signed by over 7,600 people since it was launched on Wednesday. The initiators are angry that the government is "rewarding" people who got rich off of animal cruelty.
"People who got rich by keeping mink in cramped cages to gas them for their fur are rewarded by the government with 182 million euros. People who take care of others, people who have become seriously ill due to corona and people who went bankrupt and can barely make ends meet have to do with minimal support or nothing at all," the initiators wrote.
At the end of August, the government announced that the ban on mink farming will be accelerated. Instead of closing in 2024, mink farms have to close by March next year. This is to stop coronavirus hotspots forming at mink farms. Mink at 44 fur farms in the country have been culled after testing positive for the virus, despite increasingly strict hygiene measures. The government earmarked 182 million euros, 32 million euros of which comes from an existing quitting scheme, to compensate the 110 mink farms for lost income due to this decision.
That is over 1.5 million euros per mink farm, the petition initiators pointed out. The petition and signatories want equal treatment, and also get 1.5 million euros from the government. If not, they demand that the "golden handshake to mink breeders" be withdrawn.
D66 parliamentarian Tjeerd de Groot also thinks the compensation is too high, pointing out that the initial decision to ban mink farming was already made in 2013, and that it had been coming a long time before that - the first proposal was submitted in 2002. "The breeders have already had a long transitional arrangement," De Groot said to the Volkskrant. "Of course the government has to compensate for the lost production seasons, otherwise you will get legal proceedings. But that arrangement must be as austere as possible."
1.65 million euros per company is a massive amount for a controversial sector that was already on bad times, critics say. Fur prices have been falling for some time. Partly due to this, the number of mink farms in the Netherlands already decreased by 18 this past year, according to the Volksrkant. Due to the low prices, De Groot even expressed the fear that mink farmers may themselves be behind the ever continuing coronavirus outbreaks.
"The compensation that those companies receive is higher than the market price," De Groot said. "It is more attractive to be culled than to sell. The mink farmers say they adhere to all hygiene and other corona rules, and yet the infections are getting worse. Then either the rules are not right or they don't follow the rules."
According to the mink fur sector, the compensation scheme is too low. Wim Verhagen, director of the federation for noble animal keepers NFE, called the compensation scheme a "disaster for the sector", according to the Volkskrant. "Companies must stop three years earlier than planned. Three years to recoup investments are taken away," he said. According to Verhagen, if you want to determine what reasonable compensation must be, you must not look at the recent fur price. He referred to a the 2013 calculation, which assumed that breeders would earn 1 billion euros in the ten years before having to close. "That's 100 million euros a year," Verhagen said. "The government is now taking away three years, that's 300 million."
Verhagen also pointed to an international auction in Copenhagen last week, where two-thirds of pets on offer sold for slightly higher than last year. "World production has shrunk, so prices are going to rise again," he said. He added that mink farmers also have the option to hold onto their furs and wait for higher prices.