The bill to ban fur farming the Great Britain is essentially a done deal. The 13 fur farms left in Great Britain will have to shut down by 2003; though the bill provides ample compensation for the remaining few fur farms. Ironically the ban on fur farming comes at a time when fur is making a comeback on the world fashion stage including in the United Kingdom.
In fact, the thing that comes through loud and clear about the use of fur is that animal rights activists have had almost no impact on the world fur market. Take mink, for example. In 1980, 22 million mink pelts were produced worldwide. After a boom in the 1980s that saw almost 42 million pelts produced in 1988, mink production crashed to an all-time low of 20.4 million in 1993 — due in large measure to the world-wide recession of the late 1980s. By 1997, however, world mink production had climbed back to 26.3 million pelts (although economic downturns in Russia likely lowered world production in 1998-1999).
As Richard North points out, the reality is that fur and fur farming is important only to a relatively small portion of the public. In large measure that is because the animal rights activists in their campaign against fur are inevitably forced into what Adrian Morrison calls the “muddled middle.” An editorial in the Daily Telegraph put this problem succinctly.
In singling out fur-farming for destruction, Miss [Maria] Eagle [the sponsor of the anti-fur farm bill] is trying to distinguish mink from cows, sheep, pigs and all the other animals that are farmed and slaughtered in this country. There is no real distinction: we eat or wear body parts from all these animals. … By all means let animal rights activists search out extreme brutalities in any farming process — and fur farming is no more brutal than other livestock farming — but it is wrong to demonise a particular process because of some perceived wrong in the people who wear the product.
As their noble lordships put on their cowhide shoes today, tied the cocoons of a thousand silkworms around their necks and arrange the fur of that norther stoat — the ermine — above their collars, they might do well to consider why the mink gets off so lightly.
Fur should fly. The Daily Telegraph (London), November 13, 2000
The question for all dedicated followers of fashion: can they stomach the rage for fur? Mary Braid, the Independent (London), November 4, 2000.
Fur and Freedom: in defence of the fur trade. Richard North, Institute for Economic Affairs, January 2000.