Fur farms and PETA, foie gras and Tofurky — The Paycheck Protection Program and animals
More than 5 million businesses and charities across the country have received loans as part of the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program, a program intended to help small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic and keep employees on the payroll. In early July the Small Business Administration (SBA) released a list of businesses that received potentially forgivable loans ranging from $150,000 to $10 million (businesses receiving less than 150K were not named). The SBA disclosed a range for each loan, so we do not know exact dollar amounts. Many of the businesses that received large loans may make animal lovers question the government bailout:
- The Zimbal Minkery in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin, which may be the largest mink farm in North America, received a loan between $150,000 and $350,000.
- Hudson Valley Foie Gras, the largest foie gras farm in the U.S., received between $1 million and $2 million. Another foie gras producer, La Belle Farm, received at least $350,000. Both farms are located in Sullivan County, New York. According to SBA data, neither farm stated that the money would preserve a single job. (The purpose of the Paycheck Protection Program is to help businesses retain employees.)
- Hillandale Farms, one of the largest egg producers in the country, received a loan as large as $1 million.
- Petland, the nation’s “largest retail supporter of puppy mills,” according to the Humane Society of the United States, received between $2-5 million (0.5% of all loans were between $2-5 million, according to the SBA). Smaller pet stores that sell puppy mill dogs also received loans, such as the TeaCups, Puppies & Boutique store in Davie, Florida (between $150,000-350,000).
- SeaQuest, a company with a history of poor animal care at its aquariums inside malls across the country, received a multimillion-dollar loan.
- Monkey Jungle, a roadside zoo outside Miami that has long attracted controversy, received between $150,000-350,000. Monkey Jungle has been closed to visitors since March.
- The UniverSoul Circus and Carden International Circus, two circuses that pre-COVID were traveling with elephants and other wild animals, received between $350,000-$1 million each.
- The St. Petersburg Kennel Club (known as Derby Lane), one of only a few greyhound tracks still operating in Florida, received as much as $5 million. Live greyhound racing in Florida must end by December 31, thanks to a 2018 referendum approved by voters to ban the cruel industry.
- World Wide Primates, a Miami-based laboratory animal supplier owned by a twice-convicted felon, received between $350,000-1 million, even though the company has also been awarded over $4 million in federal contracts since the beginning of the year. Marshall BioResources (North Rose, NY) and Ridglan Farms (Blue Mounds, WI), two companies that breed and sell beagles and other animals for research, received $2-5 million and $150,000-350,000 respectfully. Envigo, a notorious animal testing lab that used to be known as Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), received $5-10 million, the maximum loan amount.
- Safari Club International Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the trophy-hunting organization, received between $150,000-350,000 from the loan program.
There is good news for those despairing over this use of taxpayer dollars! The Paycheck Protection Program also benefited businesses and organizations that are making the world a better place for animals:
- Hundreds of animal shelters and rescue groups across the country benefited from the loan program, such as the Humane Society of Greater Miami and the Humane Society of Broward County, which each received more than $350,000.
- PETA and the International Fund for Animal Welfare, two leading animal rights organizations, each received loans between $2-5 million.
- Mercy for Animals, an organization dedicated to protecting farmed animals, received a loan between $350,000-$1 million.
- Vegan Outreach, the National Anti-Vivisection Society, the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary, and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society each received between $150,000-350,000 to support their education and outreach efforts, care for rescued animals, and keep their boats in the water.
- Plant-based food manufacturers received help from the Paycheck Protection Program. Turtle Island Foods (Tofurky) received $2-5 million to support its 200+ employees. JUST, makers of egg and mayo alternatives, received $2-5 million. Miyoko’s Creamery, known for their delicious vegan cheeses and butter, received $1-2 million to support the growing business.
- Vegan restaurant chains Veggie Grill ($2-5 million) and Real Food Daily ($350,000-$1 million) were among many plant-based eating establishments that received funding.