Reading Time: 2 minutes

The fur industry may be spreading COVID-19 to humans. Mink confined on factory farms in the Netherlands have tested positive for COVID-19 and are ‘likely’ responsible for passing the sickness on to workers, according to Dutch agriculture minister Carola Schouten. 

Several cats who also live on the farms tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, highlighting how this zoonotic virus is jumping between species.

Animal confinement operations

This should set off alarms for all animal confinement operations, as the New York Times and Washington Post have just done, publishing riveting op-eds by Jonathan Safran Foer that make an undeniable case for the current pandemic being a catalyst for quitting meat. 

So far, COVID-19 has been found in animals on four fur factory farms in the Netherlands. The country was once the third-top producer of fur in the world, but is in the midst of a phase-out after banning fur farming in 2013. Activists are now calling for an immediate and full shut-down.

The cost of exploiting animals in industrial systems is too great to ignore (Image: Rob Halhead. Do not use without permission)

On the defensive

The fur industry has been on the defensive in the last few years with more and more countries, cities, states, brands and retailers banning the farming, trapping or selling of fur. 

Coupled with the rise in hi-tech and sustainable faux furs like Ecopel’s luxurious KOBA, which is made from recycled and plant-based inputs, the fur industry has been under pressure to appeal to more sustainably-minded shoppers and to address some of their largest environmental impacts like fur-farming’s C02 emissions. 

Kopenhagen Fur, the largest fur auction house in the world, has even started using plant-based feed like soybeans, according to an article in Vogue Business


The irony of a factory farm full of confined wild carnivores being given plant-based feed to try to curb their environmental impact is not lost.

The simple truth is that the cost of exploiting animals in industrial systems is too great to ignore, especially now, and the longer we wait to bring an end to things like cow, chicken or mink factory farms, the larger the price we’ll all have to pay.