Latvia discusses ban on fur farming

European countries are banning fur farming one after another, in total 18 have already banned it. Discussions on the ban have been launched in Latvia but it is still unclear how to deal with it from a business perspective, Latvian Radio reported January 4.

There are currently five fur farming plants in Latvia, with around 140 thousand minks. Argriculture Ministry official Jānis Eglīts told Latvian Radio that the farms contribute greatly to the Latvian economy. 

“Every sector that gives us jobs, tax revenues, consumes local output, I think it is important enough in the context of Latvia. Of course, we don't eat mink, of course, the industry exports products, but that doesn't make it any less significant,” Eglīts said.

In Latvia, a draft law on the ban on fur farming was submitted to the Saeima in September last year, signed by deputies from different factions. The ban could be imposed in 2026. 

In each of the countries banning the farming of animals for fur, governments choose to go their own way: either the companies are granted a transitional period when they have to cease operations or they pay compensation for stopping business instantly.

Eglīts said that the draft law banning the farming of fur animals had already been discussed in the previous Saeima, and it decided that this sector has a place in the Latvian economy. At present, there is a different situation with mink farms being a risk of Covid-19. 

“Any transitional period gives entrepreneurs time to refocus their activities to do something else. Any transitional period reduces the options of compensation. At the moment we offered compensation as the decision came straight away,” the ministry spokesman said.

Sandra Vilciņa, representative of the Latvian association of animal breeders, said it is difficult to predict the future of Latvian fur farming. Asked what path Latvia should potentially go – compensation or setting a transitional period if fur animals were to be reared – Sandra Vilniva replied:

"We are frustrated by either one of these roads because we want to work and we want to expand the industry. We want to continue, without compensation and without bans. And if this sector is closed, there must be clear justification and wording: why? What will it give to the Latvian economy and what the Latvian economy will lose if this sector is eliminated."

The co-founder of the non-governmental organization “Animal Freedom”, animal rights activist Katrīna Krīgere, said that fur farmers have no future either in Latvia or elsewhere in Europe. Speaking about the experience of other countries, Krīgere said each country chose its own model. The transitional period as compensation was applied by Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Luxembourg, Hungary and Serbia. Meanwhile, in Italy, which plans to ban the breeding of fur animals from the middle of this year, companies in this sector will be paid compensation.

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