Breaking News: Norway bans fur farming
On June 13th the Norwegian Parliament passed the Fur Farming Prohibition Act. The ban will enter into force in February 2025. The existing 170 fur farmers will receive individual compensation during the transition period.
The government against fur
The Fur Farming Prohibition Act is considered a victory to the Liberal Party (Venstre). When the Liberals entered into a coalition government together with the Conservatives and the Progress Party in January 2017, the small party succeeded in getting a ban on fur farming included in their new joint government statement.
When the Christian Democrats joined the coalition government a few months later, the ban on fur farming was upheld as a goal of the new four-party government, despite all parties except the Liberals supported fur farming in their party programs.
In Parliament the Fur Farming Prohibition Act was supported by the Socialist Party and the Greens, which both have committed to end fur farming in their party programs.
Animal welfare concerns
The Norwegian Animal Protection Alliance has been working to end fur farming for two decades.
– Fox and mink are carnivores with behavioural needs that cannot be met in captivity. Foxes live in family groups and mink are solitary, unlike ordinary farm animals, like cows and hens, who are ruminants and live in larger groups, explains zoologist Anton Krag in the Norwegian Animal Protection Alliance.
– You can’t let out 20.000 minks on a pasture. To produce pelts effectively fox and mink have to be kept in cages, which are highly unsuitable to these very active animals, Krag says.
The improbability of solving the animal welfare concerns of keeping active carnivores in small cages was the main reason the government decided to ban fur farming.
– I understand that it is difficult when one is exposed to such a change, but there is also great political support for animal protection considerations. Norway no longer wants fur farming, prime minister Erna Solberg stated when she met protesting fur farmers in May.
Economic compensation to the fur farmers
The fur farmers are not entitled to expropriation compensation by law. However, they will still receive considerable amounts in compensation from the state.
The Ministry of Agriculture, on behalf of the government, proposed a compensation plan of 505 mill. NOK (approx. 54 mill. Euro). The majority voted in favour of the plan with some amendments, and the final sum may even exceed this amount.
The Social Democrats and the Farmer’s Party voted against the compensation plan because they said they did not find it good enough for the fur farmers. Instead they voted in favour of their own compensation plan, including a ban on fur farming.
A majority consisting of The Liberals, the Conservatives, the Progress Party, the Christian Democrats, the Socialists and the Greens all voted in favour of the compensation plan.
The way forward
Norwegian fur farmers will be able to apply for economic compensation already this year. By the end of 2024 there will be no more fur farms in the country.
– We are hoping that the closing down of the Norwegian fur farming industry inspires other countries. Fur farming is a disgrace for our Scandinavian neighbours Sweden, Finland and Denmark, Krag says.
Facts about Norwegian fur farming
- Produces mink and fox
- 1% of the world market
- 167 fur farms (2018), reduced from 505 (2008)
- 99% of Norwegian fur is exported, mainly to Asian markets
- Over 300 retailers on the Norwegian market have committed not to selling real fur