Sunday Times- Stephen O’Brien
Ireland News: Wiping out fur trade ‘to cost millions’
government is planning to pay “significant” compensation to
five fur farmers before it bans the industry and shuts them down.
new Programme for Government, agreed 10 days ago by Fianna Fail and the
Green party, promises to outlaw fur farming within three years. But officials
have indicated that compensation worth “several millions” will
first be negotiated with the five operators, who employ about 80 people.
“I think they will get a pretty generous package if they are going
to be shut down,” said one senior official. “The terms and conditions
will have to be thrashed out in negotiations with the Department of Agriculture,
but there will definitely be a package for the industry.”
operator, who claims he has invested €750,000 in seven years in his
firm, has threatened to resist any move to put him out of business. Sven
Sjöholm, who runs the Tazetta fur farm in Glenties, Co Donegal, said
it was wrong to wipe out an export trade worth €5m to Ireland. “I
am in limbo. No one has come officially with anything to any of the farmers,”
he said. “We don’t know any of the facts, just what has come
through the media.
livelihoods are on the line and we will fight for them. I have 20 staff,
14 full-time and six part-time. We have been following all the rules laid
down by the Department of Agriculture over the years, and all the European
have unannounced inspections two or three times a year, and we are licensed
by the department.” The Irish Fur Breeders’ Association (IFBA)
says its members use 2,000 tonnes of fish offal and 7,000 tonnes of poultry,
pork, beef and sheep by-products each year to feed the animals they farm.
Britain and Austria within the EU have a specific ban on fur farming, but
the trade thrives elsewhere, particularly in northern Europe. The IFBA claims
the industry is worth €1.5 billion a year to 6,000 fur farmers in Europe,
with 60,000 full-time staff. Dinny
McGinley, the Fine Gael TD for Donegal South West, said a ban on fur farming
would be a major employment blow to his constituency, and in particular
to the communities of Ardara and Glenties, where there were 40 people employed
at two fur farms.“What we have in Donegal is very controlled,”
he said. “It is humanely done and there is a lot of recycling as well.”
This is a reference to offal from local fish and pork farms being used as
food for mink.
of the staff in these farms are the main bread-winners for their families.
The ban would be a devastating blow for them,” said McGinley, who
added that more than 20,000 people — 30% of the workforce in Co Donegal
— are jobless, the highest rate in Ireland.
Coughlan, the tanaiste, employment minister and local TD, is to meet the
Donegal fur farmers this month to discuss the ban. Donegal-born Sjöholm
is a third-generation fur farmer. His grandfather ran a fur farm in his
native Finland, and Sune, his father, set up a mink farm in Glenties in
1969. Sjöholm took over running the Glenties operation seven years
ago. At peak production time there are 50,000 mink on the farm. Some 37,000
a year are slaughtered using carbon monoxide gas, and their pelts sold at
auction mainly in Finland, Denmark and America.
can’t afford to lose any businesses in Ireland in this climate,”
he said. “We will meet as a group and examine all our legal options.”
for Government pledges to “phase out” fur farming over three
years, “end stag hunting” and replace badger culls with more
effective and humane methods of control. It
commits the government to introducing a new bill updating existing animal
health and welfare legislation, and adopting “the five freedoms”
set out in the similar Scottish legislation. These are freedom from “hunger
and thirst; discomfort; pain, injury or disease; and fear and distress”;
and “freedom to express normal behaviour”.