The province‚Äôs ban on keeping mink has caused irreparable harm to producers, but BC Supreme Court has stopped short of awarding relief.
In a decision rendered March 4 but only published April 8, Justice Carol Ross denied a request by the Canada Mink Breeders Association, British Columbia Mink Producers Association and six farms for an order ‚Äúsuspending the prohibition on breeding or acquiring mink and the requirement to slaughter kits born on mink farms,‚ÄĚ pending the outcome of a challenge on the province‚Äôs ban on mink farming.
The ban was announced in November, and producers are challenging it in court. Producers hoped to breed their herd and maintain a small quantity of mink ‚Äď less than 50,000 animals ‚Äď in the event their challenge of the ban was successful.
‚ÄúThe petitioners submit that any effort to retain breeding herds without the benefits of breeding would result in massive expense with slim or no chance of recovery,‚ÄĚ according to court documents.
The province argued that the petitioners had ‚Äúfailed to advance a serious question to be tried.‚ÄĚ It also claimed that mink producers had failed to demonstrate any irreparable harm from the ban.
Ross dismissed the province‚Äôs claims, noting an affidavit from Joseph Williams of the BC Mink Producers Association that detailed how replacing top-quality breeding stock takes many years and is not simply a case of going to the market and picking up new animals.
However, she denied the request for an order allowing breeding to proceed this spring given the public health risk mink pose as ‚Äúthe leading domesticated animal reservoir of the virus.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúThe pandemic requires proactive and speedy action by the government and that sometimes this will entail significant economic consequences,‚ÄĚ Ross wrote in her decision.
Despite those economic consequences, the province says it will not compensate farmers for losses suffered as a result of the ban on their operations.
However, in December it told producers it was willing to work with the federal government to provide AgriRecovery funding to assist with the decommissioning of farms.
No funding program has been announced.