There are currently 3 mink farms operating in Ireland. Inspections of these farms are carried out by officers from my Department relating to their licensing and to animal welfare matters including the accommodation used to house the mink.
In 2011 a Review Group was established to examine all aspects of fur farming in Ireland. 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 considered whether the farming of fur animals in Ireland should be banned and concluded that it did not find the arguments in favour of this compelling and recommended that instead, fur farming be allowed continue under licence and subject to official control.
In addressing welfare concerns, the Group made a series of recommendations. At operational level, it recommended that the level of DAFM Veterinary and Agricultural inspections and controls be strengthened, to include unannounced inspections so 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. It also recommended that veterinary controls should include a review of the checks carried out by the private veterinary practitioner engaged by the licence holders.
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.
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.