Danish leader taps new minister after mink killings

Mink look out from a pen at a farm near Naestved, Denmark
Mink look out from a pen at a farm near Naestved, Denmark.
(Mads Claus Rasmussen / Ritzau Scanpix )

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen appointed a new agriculture minister Thursday to succeed Mogens Jensen, who resigned after the government ordered the culling of all Danish mink without having the necessary legislation in place.

Development Cooperation Minister Rasmus Prehn was tapped to replace Jensen, who was in charge of agriculture and fisheries.

The mass cull was ordered after it was discovered that a mutated version of the coronavirus found among minks in Danish farms can be transmitted to people, though there is no evidence so far that it is more dangerous or resistant to vaccines. Earlier this month, authorities said that 11 people were sickened by it.


The cull was ordered despite the government lacking a legal basis for killing healthy animals, an embarrassing oversight that caused it to scramble to build political consensus for a new law that now has the backing of a majority in the Danish parliament.

The left-leaning parties that support the Social Democratic one-party, minority government said they no longer had confidence in 57-year-old Jensen, prompting his departure. The center-right opposition expressed similar reservations.

The prime minister’s traditional presentation of a new government member to Queen Margrethe, who formally is the country’s head of state, didn’t happen because one of Frederiksen’s family members had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Denmark is culling all 15 million minks in farms to prevent the coronavirus’ spread to humans.

Nov. 5, 2020

In a statement, Frederiksen said that she will “out of an extra precautionary measure not meet the Queen”; nor will the outgoing agriculture minister.

Frederiksen, who later tested negative, said she informed the 80-year-old monarch of the ministerial change by telephone.