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'No longer appropriate': Cabinet signs off on fur farming ban and compensation scheme for farmers

The prohibition is not expected to begin until next year, allowing farmers to see out the 2021 season.

Image: Shutterstock/Katvic

Updated Jun 22nd 2021, 2:38 PM

CABINET HAS TODAY signed off on a prohibition of fur farming, with a compensation scheme for fur farmers to be established.

The commitment to prohibit the breeding of mink solely for their fur is in the programme for Government.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue sought Cabinet approval to implement a prohibition on the practice, as well as to provide for a scheme of compensation for the small number of fur farms currently operating.

There are approximately 120,000 mink on three farms in counties Laois, Donegal and Kerry. The three farmers will be compensated for closing down their operations with asset value, earnings, redundancy payments and demolition fees to be considered in the package.

The prohibition is not expected to begin until early in 2022 allowing the farmers to see out the 2021 season.

Speaking to reporters at Government Buildings, the minister said it is important to make clear that all three farmers have always complied with the regulations to the highest of standards.

However, he said the practice of mink farming “really has become outdated”.

“It’s no longer appropriate to our time, it is something that societal views have changed towards and indeed it is something that the government’s views have very much changed as well,” he added. 

McConalogue said the ban on fur farming brings an end to the livelihood of these three farmers, which makes this a “very significant decision” by the government.

He said the decision will impact on 12 employees, and during peak season up to 3o staff can work on the farms.

The minister said the farms must be compensated appropriately and reasonably given the impact the ban will have on their livelihoods, though he would not specify the monetary amount, which he said will have to be negotiated.

Fur farming came under greater scrutiny in November 2020 when the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan, advised the culling of mink over fears of a variant of Covid-19 linked to the animals.

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It came following outbreaks of the coronavirus on farms in Denmark, Greece and the Netherlands.

Staff at the Irish farms have been tested since then with no detection of the variant strain linked to mink.

The prohibition on fur farming provisions will be provided for in an amendment to the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013.

The amendment is likely to include a provision that cats, chinchillas, dogs, foxes, mink and weasels (including stoats) shall not be farmed for their fur or skin.

With reporting by Christina Finn.

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Céimin Burke

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