My Department has statutory responsibility for the welfare and protection of farmed animals under the European Communities (Welfare of Farmed Animals) Regulations, 2010(Statutory Instrument No 311/2010) and the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013. Irish fur farmers are, in this regard, subject to the same animal welfare legislation as other livestock farmers.
A review of all aspects of fur farming in Ireland was commissioned in November 2011. The Terms of Reference of the Review Group were:
(i) To review fur farming in Ireland taking into account existing legislative provisions for the licensing of mink farming;
(ii) To comment on the economic benefits of the sector;
(iii) To consider the effectiveness of existing welfare controls, and
(iv) To make appropriate recommendations
The Review Group invited submissions from the public and interested parties and considered over four hundred submissions which were received.
The Group concluded that it did not find the arguments in favour of banning the farming of fur animals in Ireland compelling and recommended that instead, fur farming be allowed continue under licence and subject to official control. I accept the findings of the review group and its recommendations.
On foot of the Review Group’s deliberations, my Department 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.
Notwithstanding the position in other countries, given the recommendations from the review group, there are no plans to introduce a ban on fur farming.