Netherlands to close mink farms after coronavirus outbreaks

FILE PHOTO: People with and without masks in the Red Light District in Amsterdam, Netherlands August 5, 2020. REUTERS/Eva Plevier

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - More than 100 mink farms in the Netherlands will be ordered closed by March after animals at dozens of locations contracted the coronavirus, Dutch news agency ANP reported on Thursday.

Hundreds of thousands of the ferret-like animals, which are bred for their fur, have been culled in the Netherlands and other European countries since the virus outbreak.

The Netherlands had already intended to halt its mink breeding industry by 2024, but decided to bring forward the closures after several farm employees contracted COVID-19.

The government has set aside 180 million euros ($212 million) to compensate farmers, the ANP report said, citing sources.

According to the Dutch Federation of Pelt Farmers, the Netherlands exports around 90 million euros ($101 million) worth of fur a year for use in China and globally. The country had roughly 900,000 mink at 130 farms, Statistics Netherlands data said.

Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Leslie Adler