Ending Fur Farming In Canada
In the 1980s, there were more than 1,200 fur farms in Canada. Today, there are fewer than 100. The industry is in decline, several countries around the world have banned fur farming, and around three-quarters of Canadians support a ban on fur farming. Some of the largest fur auction houses in the world closed in recent years. Fashion labels such as Gucci, Versace, Armani and over 1500 more are going fur-free. This report looks at the decline of the fur farming industry in Canada, and the factors that may finally end it once and for all.
The decline of the industry in Canada has several reasons, according to the authors: the environment, public health, and animal welfare. Fur farming is extremely inefficient and resource intensive. In a 2011 report by CE Delft, fur consistently scored worse than other textiles in 17 out of 18 of the environmental impacts studied.
The authors note that fur farming is also bad for public health. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, fur farms all around the world were found to pose a risk to public health because viruses — and COVID-19 in particular — spread rapidly in these crowded farms and sometimes spread to humans. In response, some governments phased out mink farming, temporarily banned it, or both. In 2021, British Columbia phased out mink farming after three mink farms across the province experienced COVID-19 outbreaks.
Finally, fur farming is bad for animals. Most animals in fur farms are kept in extreme confinement. Minks are often kept in cages smaller than the size of two sheets of paper. Undercover investigations show that these animals display abnormal behavior, including self-mutilation and cannibalism. The animals are typically killed in gas chambers filled with carbon monoxide, or electrocuted. The industry standards developed by the National Farm Animal Care Council — an industry group and not an arms-length agency — are far too weak to protect the animals. Their inadequate guidelines are not even enforced.
Due to all of these factors, the fur farming industry in Canada has been on a rapid decline in recent years. With 44 million dollars reported in sales, they only made up 0.06% of the agricultural economy in 2019. Despite this, the industry receives millions in funding from the government.
The authors of this report have compiled several case studies from around the world that demonstrate how fur farmers can successfully transition their farms to other types of businesses, such as fruit and vegetable farms or solar farms. The government can redirect funds that are currently used to subsidize the fur industry towards compensation and buyouts for fur farmers. Many countries, such as Ireland, Belgium, and Denmark, have offered various forms of financial support to fur farmers who opt out.
Advocates can encourage such transitions by pushing for the financial support of transitioning farmers. The negative impacts of the fur industry seem clear and the public is already in favor of banning fur. Ensuring the livelihoods of former fur farmers can make banning fur even more popular, which makes the policy more likely to be adopted.