Organization calling on Public Health to close BC fur farms.

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An organization that focuses on the wellbeing and safety of humans, the environment, and animals has sent a letter to Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry requesting she disallow applications for new fur farms.

The request comes after a Freedom of Information request found B.C’s Agriculture Minister Lana Popham is not only accepting applications, but also entertaining the establishment of two new fur farms during the pandemic: one in Langley, and one in Prince George.

Ban Fur Farms BC spokesperson Olivia Gordey says they are breeding grounds for COVID-19.

“Over the past year, there have been hundreds of outbreaks of COVID-19 on fur farms globally with many nations taking action to end fur farming in their jurisdictions.”

Gordey says the industry only employs around 50 people in B.C and has already seen three COVID outbreaks.

 “So our minister of agriculture has failed to keep them safe by allowing the industry to breed this spring and that has increased the reservoir size for this virus and the workers risks of contracting COVID-19.”

There are currently 10 mink farms and one chinchilla farm in B.C., all of which are in the Fraser Valley.

Gordey says mink are part of a growing list of critters that have the ability to contract, mutate and pass COVID back to people, which makes outbreaks on fur farms particularly hard to mitigate.

“Not only is the government failing to keep [workers] safe but they could be helping them transition to different industries. I mean, the whole reason this industry is alive and well in B.C is because it is so heavily subsidized,” said Gordey.

Since 2014, the government has provided at least $6.5 million in subsidies through AgriStability benefits to B.C. fur farmers. 

Ban Fur Farms BC says the industry poses a huge risk to B.C's progress in the fight against COVID-19, but Ag minister Lana Popham has failed to act and is placing responsibility on public health.