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. In that regard, Irish fur farmers are 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: to review fur farming in Ireland, taking into account existing legislative provisions for the licensing of mink farming; to comment on the economic benefits of the sector; to consider the effectiveness of existing welfare controls; and to make appropriate recommendations. The review group invited submissions from the public and interested parties and considered over 400 submissions. 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 its 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 departmental officials. Notwithstanding the position in a number of other European countries, given the recommendations of the review group, there are no plans to introduce a ban on fur farming in Ireland.
My Department has drafted new codes of practice for fur farming, the requirements of which include that each fur farm must have its husbandry plans signed off on by its private veterinary practitioner.