‘Fur farming will continue under licence and subject to official control’ – Minister

There are currently three licensed mink farms operating in Ireland, all of which are subject to Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine inspections.

These were the sentiments expressed by the country’s agricultural minister Micheal Creed in the Dáil last week after he was asked by deputy Maureen O’Sullivan what his views were on the conditions in fur farms and how his department could address the concerns of groups highly critical of the practice.

The minister also pointed out that on foot of a review group’s deliberations, his department has introduced more rigorous controls on licence holders in the areas of animal welfare, animal accommodation, security and nutrient management.

Licensees are subject to regular inspections including unannounced inspections by department officials.

He continued: “The controls in this area are therefore robust, and in particular, there is a focus on ensuring high animal welfare standards are maintained on these farms.”

Minister Creed went on then to point to the three farms that were operating in Ireland.

He confirmed that inspections of these farms were carried out by officers from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

And, the inspections, he added, related to licensing issues and to animal welfare matters including the accommodation in which the mink are housed.

‘Fur farming in Ireland’

Minister Creed went on to say that in 2011 a review group was established to examine all aspects of fur farming in this country.

He said the terms of reference included a review of fur farming in Ireland and took into account existing legislative provisions for the licensing of mink farming.

The review group also commented on the economic benefits of the sector; considered the effectiveness of existing welfare controls; and made appropriate recommendations.

He continued: “It invited submissions from the public and interested parties and considered over 400 submissions in total. It also considered whether the farming of fur animals in Ireland should be banned and concluded there was no argument in favour of this.

“It did recommend, instead, that fur farming be allowed continue under licence and subject to official control,” he added.

‘Strengthening controls’

Minister Creed then went a step further to address any concerns members of the public may have in respect of the matter before him.

He said the review group pointed out – in its recommendations – that, at operational level, department veterinary and agricultural inspections and controls be strengthened to include unannounced inspections.

This move, he added, ensures that additional confidence can be gained in respect of compliance with animal health, animal welfare, environmental requirements, greater security on the farms and contingency planning.

“The review group also recommended that veterinary controls should include a review of the checks carried out by the private veterinary practitioner engaged by the licence holders,” Minister Creed concluded.