A bill seeking to ban fur farms in Estonia passed its first reading in the Riigikogu on Thursday. Polling suggests 75 percent of people in Estonia do not support the practice.
During a debate in the Riigikogu, the bill's rapporteur Jevgeni Ossinovski (SDE) said: "The fur industry, unlike the food industry, does not meet any of the basic needs of humankind. Fur is a luxury commodity for which there are both more ethical and more environmentally friendly alternatives."
Ossinovski said many different chemicals are needed to produce fur from an animal and the whole process also increases the country's CO2 footprint. He added that fur farms are already disappearing in Estonia and many of these companies are unprofitable.
Marek Jürgenson (Center) asked Ossinovski whether a ban on the sale of fur products in Estonia has also been discussed, but Ossinovski said it had not. Merry Aart (EKRE) asked why it was necessary to ban an already declining industry.
Maria Jufereva-Skuratovski (Center) argued that if farms could not be kept open in Estonia, producers would simply move their industries to third countries.
Ossinovski replied that first fur farms were banned in Western Europe, now this trend is moving towards Eastern Europe, and it can be assumed that in a while China will also start to raise its standards.
The bill aims to see fur farms banned by 2023 and animal rights' activists are celebrating the decision as an important step towards prohibiting the practice.
Kristina Mering, president of animal welfare organization Nahtamatud Loomad, said: "Today is a symbolic day -- the bill seeking to ban fur farms has also been in the Riigikogu before but today it was taken forward, and we have now arrived at substantial discussions. The bill passing first reading indicates that the rise in public concern for animals has reached the decision-makers and the voice of the people is being heard.
"The work will now continue with motions to amend the bill so that the second and third reading thereof can also be conducted successfully."
The fur farming industry in Estonia has been in significant decline in recent years. Animals farmed for their fur at present only number 2,000 in Estonia and most fur farms have informed the Veterinary Board of their imminent closure. A recent survey by pollster Kantar Emor shows that 75 percent of Estonian people do not support the farming and killing of animals for their fur.
Fur farms are prohibited in the United Kingdom, Norway, the Netherlands, Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovakia, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Czech Republic. Denmark and Norway have banned fox farms.
The bill will now be forwarded to second reading for which members of the parliament can submit amendment proposals.
Editor: Helen Wright