As part of its coronavirus relief package, Congress gave the US Department of Agriculture $300 million to monitor susceptible wild and domestic animals for the presence of COVID-19. Over the summer, the department proposed a framework for how it intends to use the funds. However, despite COVID-19 outbreaks on more than 17 US mink fur farms and at least one likely instance of mink-to-human transmission, the proposal made no mention of how the USDA intends to address the threat such farms pose to public health.
AWI worked with Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) on a letter from 21 representatives urging the USDA to use a portion of the allocated funds to dramatically expand its oversight of mink and other fur farms. A coalition of organizations led by AWI also submitted comments to the USDA explaining the many ways in which farmed mink could contribute to the spread of COVID-19 and urged the department to prioritize investment in efforts to prevent, detect, and monitor the disease on mink farms.