Norway’s newly minority government headed off another challenge this week when it agreed to pay out far more compensation to fur farmers who must phase out their operations. No one knows, however, how much Norway’s forced shutdown of fur farming after myriad cases of animal abuse will now cost taxpayers.
The fur farmers’ lobby had been pressuring the government, claiming that the initial NOK 300 million (USD 33 million) offered wasn’t nearly enough compensation for lost jobs and assets. When the Progress Party withdraw from the conservative government coalition a few weeks ago and then became part of the opposition, it joined calls to increase to payments to those who’ve been raising animals for their fur.
Agriculture Minister Olaug Bollestad of the Christian Democrats announced that the government and Progress have now agreed that they’ll drop initial plans for compensation based on stated asset values or the number of breeding animals farmers have. Now the farmers will be compensated based on a value assessment of each fur farm property itself, as if it were to be expropriated for public use and/or forcibly taken away from private owners. Each farm will be appraised individually.
The new formula is expected to provide much more money for fur farmers and be much more expensive for the state, but no economic framework has been set. Some have estimated the costs at well over NOK 1 billion, more than three times the original compensation package.
The small Liberal Party had initially won government support for the shutdown of the controversial fur-farming industry in Norway. Debate over subsequent compensation was even longer and more troublesome. Bollestad described it all as “a demanding issue for a long time” when she addressed Parliament with the compromise now worked out. She said she will now work to put the new compensation systems in place “as quickly as possible” and likely before the summer holidays. The industry is due to be phased out by 2025.