Denmark to spend billions on compensation deal for mink farmers

The government last night reached agreement over an 11-figure compensation package for mink fur farmers.

Denmark to spend billions on compensation deal for mink farmers
Culled mink in Denmark on November 6th 2020. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Up to 18.8 billion kroner (around €1.6 billion) will be given to mink breeders and people in related industries who lost their livelihoods when the government ordered animals to be culled and the industry shut down last November, after the outbreak of a mutated form of coronavirus at fur farms.

The exact figure is not known before individual claims have been assessed. Around 1,000 mink fur farms operated in Denmark prior to November’s dramatic shuttering of the industry.


A broad majority of parties in parliament have backed the deal, including the governing Social Democrats along with the Liberal and Liberal Alliance parties from the right wing and the Social Liberal and Socialist People’s parties from the left.

“This deal gives a fair and reasonable compensation so mink breeders can move forward,” acting finance minister Morten Bødskov said.

The deal includes a scheme to enable mink breeders to re-establish businesses once the current ban on the industry expires, as it is set to do on December 31st this year.

“We have negotiated from compensation which in no way would have covered the debts incurred by the industry to a situation in which there will be reasonable compensation,” said Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, leader of the Liberal party, in reference to the drawn-out negotiations over the deal.

A large part of the compensation package will be used to service the debts of mink farmers, Ritzau writes.

Parties not signatory to the agreement and other commenters reacted by highlighting the magnitude of the sum to be spent by the Danish state compensating mink farmers.

The agriculture spokesperson with the right-wing Danish People’s Party (DF), Lise Bech, tweeted that DF had not supported the deal because it wanted financing for resurrected businesses to be “cheaper for the state”.

“The government would not change a comma of the draft proposal on the table this evening,” Bech wrote.

“18.8 billion for some mink? You gotta be kidding me,” wrote lawmaker Sikandar Siddique of the recently-formed Independent Green party.

“I never again want to hear that we have no money for climate, nature, schools, the underprivileged, homeless, refugees, hospitals, childcare, a shorter working week, asylum seekers, better housing,” he wrote.

In a second tweet, Siddique said it was “crazy” to spend “billions and billions on dead mink and a sick industry”.

The government initially ordered the all minks in the country to be culled on November 4th after a mutated version of the new coronavirus was detected at its mink farms and had spread to people. The mutated form is now considered to have been eradicated.

The culling order issued by the government was later found to be illegal, and an official commission has since been appointed to scrutinize it.



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Did Sweden’s state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

For his supporters, it was well-deserved, for his detractors a case of failing upwards. But when Sweden's Public Health Agency announced this month that state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell was taking a job at the World Health Organisation, both sides assumed it was true.

Did Sweden's state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

Now, it seems, the job might not be there after all. 

At the start of this month, Sweden’s Public Health Agency announced that Anders Tegnell was resigning to take up a post coordinating vaccine work with the World Health Organisation in Geneva. 

“I’ve worked with vaccines for 30 years and have at the same time always been inspired by international issues,” Tegnell said in the release. “Now I will have the chance to contribute to this comprehensive international work.”

During the first and second waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, Tegnell shot immediately from obscurity into the spotlight, gaining such celebrity status in Sweden that one fan had his profile tattooed onto his arm.

Internationally he was hailed by lockdown sceptics for his reasoned arguments against overly restrictive measures to control the spread of the virus. 

His new WHO appointment was reported all over the world. 

But on Tuesday, the Svenska Daglabdet newspaper revealed that the job had not yet been awarded. A spokesperson for the WHO said at a press conference in Geneva that “there is some confusion”, and that “this is an internal question.” 

According to the newspaper, there is even “a certain level of irritation” behind the scenes at the WHO that Sweden acted too soon and dispatched Tegnell to a job that did not actually exist yet. 

“We have received an offer from Sweden, which is still under discussion,” the organisation’s press spokesperson, Fadela Chaib, told the newspaper. 

On Thursday, the Public Health Agency’s press chief Christer Janson conceded that there had been a mistake and that the negotiation had not been completed.  

“We believed it was done, but it wasn’t,” he told Expressen in an interview. “It’s been a much longer process to get this completed than we thought. There’s been a misunderstanding and we regret that.”