Victims of vandalism, Minnesota mink farm denied insurance claim

A Stearns County farm devastated by vandals is now fighting its insurance company to cover the damage.

Lang Farms in Eden Valley, Minnesota, reported a break-in on July 17 that resulted in the release of more than 30,000 mink, killing thousands of the animals and devastating their entire operation.

According to the Stearns County sheriff’s office, last summer a metal fence surrounding the livestock area was dismantled and every single cage was opened. In the days following, they would discover the mink’s water supply was poisoned at both their Stearns County locations. Samples revealed the water was extremely acidic and contained the active ingredient used in RoundUp. 

Co-owner of Lang Farms, Dan Lang, estimates it will cost $500,000 to repair the water systems and get the farm ready to house livestock again.

“It’s a black and white property claim," Lang said."It’s vandalism and that’s what it was."

Lang was shocked to receive a denial letter from his insurance provider, Bird Island-Hawk Creek Mutual Insurance Company. The company listed fraud and misrepresentation as one of the reasons for denial.

“How can they change a police report? How can they say it’s something different?” said Lang. “I always thought the police were the authority.”

The Stearns County sheriff’s office has yet to make an arrest in the case, and Sheriff Don Gudmundson said Monday they continue to investigate the case as burglary and criminal damage to property.

Greg Simpson, an attorney representing Bird Island-Hawk Creek Mutual Insurance, said he was limited in how much he could say but said they had “reviewed the evidence and considered it carefully.”

“We have obligations under the policy and under state law that we feel we’ve met,” said Simpson.

In all, the farm lost more than 60,000 mink as a result of the vandalism. They’ve also had to let a majority of their employees go. 

Lang estimates it will cost them around $1.5 million to get back up and running.