Cancel culture takes on Wisconsin farmers

Mike Brown
Mike Brown, head of sustainability and public affairs for the Natural Fibers Alliance, says mink ban amendment is about virtue signaling and cancel culture, not about public health and safety or even about the minks themselves, but rather pushing an anti-animal agriculture agenda.

In February the U.S. House of Representatives passed the America COMPETES Act. The act “aims to strengthen the competitiveness of the U.S. economy and U.S. businesses, and counters anti-competitive actions taken by the People’s Republic of China …”

The aim of the act is wholly off target for one group of U.S. business owners: Wisconsin farmers.

The America COMPETES Act included an amendment that was not discussed with anyone ahead of its passing that bans mink production in the United States at the end of next year. This will directly affect Wisconsin mink farmers who are national leaders in this industry.

The amendment, championed as a public health and safety policy, was sponsored by Representatives Rosa DeLauro, D-CT.; Nancy Mace, R-SC. In a statement, Rep. DeLauro said, “The evidence is clear: mink operations can incubate and spread new COVID-19 variants and pose a unique threat of extending the pandemic.”

However, a statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention directly contradicts Rep. DeLauro’s opinion, noting there is “no evidence that mink are playing a significant role in the spread of COVID-19 to people.”

Rather than promoting public health and safety and increasing American competitiveness in a global marketplace, the amendment targeting mink farmers castigates generational farm families for producing a product that is seen as a luxury item despite polling from Gallup that shows more than half of Americans consistently think wearing fur is "morally acceptable."

Down bedding is also a luxury product many people take for granted. Comforters and pillows filled with down feathers from various waterfowl are highly sought after for their warmth and durability. The fowl that provide the feathers are no different than mink or leather contributing animals, yet there is no mention of preventing their production or sale in the U.S.

That is because the mink ban amendment is about virtue signaling and cancel culture, not about public health and safety or even about the minks themselves. It is about pushing an anti-animal agriculture agenda.

Mink farming in Wisconsin is a highly regulated and monitored business, dedicated farmers care for the animals seeing their nutritional and health needs are met. No different than every other member of the animal use industry.

In a culture obsessed with buzz words like “no waste,” “organic,” and “holistic,” mink producers should be praised. Instead, after congressional action, they are faced with the potential of losing their livelihoods without even being asked for information about their work. Rather than celebrate natural fibers as viable and biodegradable, members of congress are unintentionally promoting the use of synthetic materials associated with landfill, microplastics, overconsumption, and pollution.  

What needs to be canceled is the throwaway mindset of “fast fashion” that creates pollution and consumer waste not Wisconsin farmers.

Fortunately, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) put forth a motion to instruct to reject proposals that prohibit “the possession, acquirement, receipt, transportation, sale, or purchase of mink raised in captivity in the United States for fur production.” The Natural Fibers Alliance stands with Senator Johnson and applauds his efforts to keep mink farming in Wisconsin intact. 

Mike Brown is the head of sustainability and public affairs for the Natural Fibers Alliance, which represents mink breeders and others throughout Wisconsin.