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Banning fur farms to bring large claim for damages to state

Harju County Court interior.
Harju County Court interior. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

While animal rights activists and politicians welcomed the parliament's decision on Wednesday to ban fur farms in Estonia, the sentiment was not shared by fur breeders, who are planning to bring a court action exceeding €10 million against the state, Postimees reports.

Tarmo Kattago, member of the management board of the Estonian Fur Association, said that it will be up to farm operators to decide how large a compensation they are seeking from the state for their investments.

"I've heard that the price tag may amount to around €10 million," he said.

Estonia's largest fur farm operator Balti Karusnahk AS, located in Harju County, recently invested €10 million in its facilities; however, the farm has been empty since late 2020. Kattago said that if an entrepreneur has made an investment and the state is suddenly changing the rules of play, it needs to compensate the investment.

"It would be one thing if fur farms had been made to either sink or swim under market conditions and closed down as a result. The state steamrolling entrepreneurs is a different matter entirely, however. Should the taxpayer pay for all of it? I don't think they should," Kattago said.

Aado Oherd, owner of a chinchilla farm in Järva County, said that fur breeders are first planning to turn to the chancellor of justice with regard to the parliament's decision and subsequently also to the court.

"I'm planning to ask for at least a couple of hundred thousand euros for my farm, if not more. Members of the Riigikogu have no sense of responsibility for what they're doing. If they were made to compensate the costs from their own pocket, they'd have given it a moment's thought before pushing that green button," he said.

Pursuant to the parliament's decision made on Wednesday, fur farms that are currently operating will be permitted to continue their activities until the end of 2025. The Riigikogu has previously discussed banning fur farms twice, and the bill was passed at the third attempt.

One of the initiators of the bill and a member of the junior partner in the government coalition Center Party, Andrei Korobeinik, said that he believes that the list will be extended in the near future.

"As a society, we have reached a new stage of development - a place where we no longer have to fight for basic needs, and as a result, we can also pay attention to the good treatment of animals," he said.

Also one of the initiators of the draft legislation, Jevgeni Ossinovski from the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE), said that the parliament banning fur farms in Estonia is a landmark decision.

"The cruel treatment of animals on fur farms is coming to an end," he said.

The German branch of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) issued a press release on Wednesday evening congratulating Estonia for ending cruelty to animals in the country.

The Estonian Fur Association said in its press release that the conditions of animals are good on Estonian fur farms and that the breeding of fur animals for the past 150 years has produced specific species for cage breeding.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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