A government commission that’s been studying Norway’s controversial fur industry recommends developing it in a “sustainable” manner, instead of shutting it down. The commission handed over a report on Monday that defies a majority in Parliament that wants the government to consider phasing out the industry entirely.
Late last week, a majority in Parliament voted to ask the government to consider a ban on fur farms in Norway. The vote came after the latest video evidence of animal suffering and shocking conditions at several fur farms around the country, even some that an industry organization itself had viewed as being among Norway’s “serious” operators.
Instead he found more animals with open sores, chewed-off tails and feet, and subject to artificial insemination that was described as brutal. His video, aired nationwide on Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) investigative program Brennpunkt last week, shook up politicians once again and renewed calls for the industry to be shut down.
“Animal welfare is more important than people’s need for luxury goods (like mink coasts),” Sveinung Rotevatn, a Member of Parliament for the Liberal Party, told news bureau NTB. All parties in Parliament with the exception of the farmer-friendly Center Party and the Greens (MDG) voted in favour of evaluating a ban, while the Liberals and Labour simply want the industry shut down. The Greens claimed they only voted against last week’s measure because they didn’t think it was tough enough. They also want an immediate shutdown, giving fur farmers financial support in return while they find new lines of work.
‘Profitable and competitive’
The state commission’s recommendation thus came as a surprise, with many expecting it too would contend that the industry has been given enough chances over the years to improve conditions and rid itself of animal abuse. A majority on the commission, which called the fur industry “both profitable and competitive internationally,” believes fur production in Norway should continue. It contends animal welfare can be protected if rules are followed and regulators are able to react quickly to violations.
Commission leader Anne Karin Hamre conceded that the industry was “highly controversial,” but had enough “potential for improvement” that it should be allowed to attempt “sustainable development” instead of being phased out. NRK reported that five members of the nine-member commission supported ongoing fur production while three urged a gradual shutdown. One member didn’t want to commit to either.
Those in favour of maintaining fur farms in Norway claimed that farms caught with injured animals and poor conditions should not be allowed to ruin business “all the others who operate responsibly.”
Agriculture Sylvi Listhaug had been non-committal on the issue pending receipt of the commission’s recommendation. She said late last week, however, that the “serious violations” of animal welfare laws seen on the new video aired on NRK were “unacceptable,” as were the attitudes expressed by fur farmers portrayed in the video and “a lack of respect for animals and regulations.”
It’s now up to Listhaug’s ministry to evaluate the report, hold public hearings and send a proposal regarding the future of the disputed industry to Parliament. Animal rights advocates argue that politicians already have debated and evaluated the industry for years without taking any action. Industry advocates contend the fur farms are necessary to maintain economic activity in rural districts.