03 January 2006

Lobby group to step up campaign against fur farming in Ireland

Irish Examiner

**They 'farm' foxes

By Ray Ryan, Agribusiness Correspondent
03/01/06

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A CAMPAIGN to ban fur farming in Ireland is to be stepped up in the New Year by Compassion in World Farming (CIWF).

It announced it will be focusing on the issue following the successful completion of its campaign to end subsidies for live cattle exports to the Middle East.

CIWF said there are currently six mink farms in the Republic, but the practice is illegal in Northern Ireland.

However, the Department of Agriculture and Food has repeatedly stated that fur farming is a legitimate activity in this country.

Inspections have found that the licensed fur farms have been in compliance with current legislation and that the slaughter methods they employ are permitted under EU regulations.

The department has said in the past it would continue to keep in close contact with the fur industry and monitor the operation of the licensed fur farms.

CIWF director in Ireland, Mary-Anne Bartlett, said they believe fur farming is damaging to the image of a country that takes farm animal welfare seriously.

"There is a future for Irish agriculture in the production of high quality food to the very best environmental, food safety and animal welfare standards.

"But fur farming does not fit with this image. A ban on fur farming would mean the whole island of Ireland would be free of fur farming," she said.

Ms Bartlett said CIWF is encouraged by the fact that opposition parties and many independent TDs supported a Bill to ban fur farming when it was put before the Dáil last March by the Green Party.

"An opinion poll in the Republic in October 2004 showed that 63% of people want fur farming banned and 95% of people never wear a fur coat," she said.

CIWF said fur farming is highly intensive, with mink and foxes confined in rows of battery-style cages.

About 140,000 farmed mink and several hundred farmed Arctic and silver foxes are killed each year for their fur pelts, which are then exported to other countries for processing.

CIWF said the trade is worth only €1.9 million to the economy and employs a small number of people.

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