Estonian fur farmers disapprove discussion of industry ban
The environmental committee of the parliament is to discuss at its meeting on Jan. 15 the prohibition of breeding and rearing of fur animals despite the clear resistance of the Ministry of Rural Affairs, University of Life Sciences, Ministry of the Environment and many other professional associations in the fields of entrepreneurship and agriculture, spokespeople for fur breeders' overarching bodies told.
Fur breeders also pointed out the argument presented by those endorsing the ban, which argues that due to health reasons it is advised people refrain from wearing garments made of fur, thus, further development of fur industry in Estonia is unwarranted.
Initiators of the bill aim to adopt it before the general elections, in which case the law would enter into force on June 1. "This is yet another attempt - the previous one was rejected by the Riigikogu in May 10, 2017 - to end an area of activity that has been around in Estonia for 150 years and move jobs and investments out of the state by 2025," spokespeople for the industry said.
In the explanatory remarks accompanying the draft, the initiators of the bill have on several occasions presented incorrect information, as well as deliberately confused wild animals with fur-bearing animals bred in farms, spokespeople said.
"False claims have been presented regarding the use of dangerous chemicals in the processing of fur, as well as pollution, trends in clothing and fashion industries, the background of prohibiting fur farming in different states and interpretation of research findings," head of Estonian Fur Breeders' Association Leander Pragi said.
"The myths spearing in social media - the explanatory remarks referred to social media as their main source - cannot be blamed on fur breeders. Strict procedure is ensured in fur farms and all norms are observed that were established in the law that entered into force at the start of 2017. No violations have been recorded in the past two years."
Spokespeople for the industry said that all animals reared at fur farms are looked after with care and the strict rules imposed by the law are being adhered to.
All chemicals and processed used in the processing of fur in the European Union are in compliance with the REACH regulation and do not pose any threat to people, unlike what was stated in the false claims presented to the public, industry spokespeople said, adding that the processing of fur yields no microplastic residuals, which are the by-product of producing fake fur and other clothing made of petrochemical materials, whereas fur products last for generations and degrade fully and organically.
"Instead of the populism that surged before the Riigikogu elections, we call for a serious and honest discussion of rural development and analysis of the fur industry's potential for development in Estonia. It is one of the view areas in agriculture in which we have a certain climatic advantage compared to the southern states," the spokespeople said.
Fur farmers also argue that the bill includes inconsistencies as the Animal Protection Act only lists three categories of animals - farm animals, pet animals and experimental animals.
"It remains unclear where the bill's initiators' logic stems from and how it should be implemented in real life. Our position is that the initiators should first and foremost make clear to themselves, their supporters and the wider public the meaning of the terms 'farm animal', 'wild animal', 'fur animal', 'leather' and 'fur,'" spokespeople for the industry said. ■