NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Fur Is Flying Over Fur Farming

March 22, 2000

Fur farming has been attacked by some animal welfare groups in the United Kingdom and other western countries as morally wrong. As a matter of "public morality," say opponents, it should be outlawed.

However, that position assumes some widespread myths about fur farming are true, says Richard North, whereas the facts are quite different. For example:

Myth: Fur farming is cruel.

Fact: A survey of academic research on the subject suggests that in terms of animal welfare, mink are among the best cared for of any intensively farmed animal, and that the practices used in fur farming are no more "cruel" than those used in rearing pigs and chickens.

Myth: Farming fur is morally wrong.

Fact: Some people believe fur farming is morally wrong, but others disagree, as evidenced by the more than 180 fashion designers who use fur today -- four times as many as in 1985 -- and the worldwide demand for mink, which has averaged nearly 30 million pelts per year since 1980.

Myth: Fur farming is unnecessary.

Fact: The farming of fur animals is no more unnecessary than the farming of any other animal, whereas banning it would encourage something else animal rights organizations oppose: the hunting and trapping of fur-bearing animals in the wild.

Myth: Fur farming is wasteful.

Fact: Fur farms use waste products from the meat and food industries, and while fur is the main product of mink farming, the meat and bone are rendered into a prized oil, and the manure is valued by farmers.

The majority of the world's mink is farmed in Denmark, Holland and the United States, notes North, but the majority of the trade in fur takes place in London.

Source: Richard North, "Fur and Freedom: In Defense of the Fur Trade," Studies in the Environment 16, March 2000, Institute of Economic Affairs, 2 Lord North Street, (020) 7799 8900.


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