Finland Parliament not likely to ban fur farming

YLE NewsEye on the Arctic

The Finland Parliament’s Agriculture and Forestry Committee is not backing a citizen’s initiative to ban fur farming. The committee stance will most likely be approved by parliament before midsummer.

The draft bill is the first citizens’ initiative that has made it to the Parliament.

The Agriculture and Forestry Committee concluded that fur farming continues to be a lawful occupation of considerable significance in terms of the economy and employment, especially in provinces of Ostrobothnia.

Fur farming directly employs some 4,000 people, while 13,000 are employed indirectly. The trade brings annual export profits of 700-800 million euros.

Two MPs made objections to the position endorsed by the majority of the committee.

Greens want full ban

The Green League still supports a total ban on fur farming, in accordance with the citizens’ initiative. Greens MP Satu Haapanen says that the trade should be banned on ethical grounds, due to concerns for animal welfare as well as because of environmental problems arising from the business. Haapanen believes that discussion about banning fur farming will go on, even if the Parliament does not pass the initiative.

Left Alliance MP Jari Myllykoski said that a full ban is not merited, but added that the committee should have been more critical about the problems and unethical aspects of fur farming.

Business first

The majority of the parliamentary committee thought that banning the business in Finland would lead to the same trade moving to other countries. The chair of the committee, Jari Leppä of the Center Party, asserted that demand for furs was growing.

National Coalition Party MP Janne Sonkelo was happy with the committee’s decision. In his view it is important that fur farmers not be subjected to new legal obligations following the citizens’ initiative, as introducing more strict regulations could lead to a decline of the business.

Animal welfare

The Agriculture and Forestry Committee expressed concern for the welfare of the animals in the trade. Among its suggestions is the introduction of a special permit for taking breeders outside EU borders. Animals used for breeding live in cages for the longest, and as such, their welfare warrants special attention.

The fur animals’ health should also be better looked after than now, and research in the area should be increased, according to the committee.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.