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Norway’s Move to Ban Fur Farms Brings Praise and Criticism

In a move that was both political and a recognition that fur has fallen out of fashion even in a nation that was once the world’s top producer of fox pelts, Norway’s government has decided to phase out fur farms by 2025.

The reaction was swift, with fur producers dismayed and animal rights activists praising the decisions.

Reuters and Agents France Presse both reported that Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s government agreed to shut fox and mink farms that produce about one million pelts a year as part of a deal to broaden her two-party minority government by adding the anti-fur Liberal Party.

Norwegian fur farmers denounced the move to slash financial support to the controversial industry and claimed it could lead to farm closures in vulnerable rural areas. The Norwegian government has proposed to cut $2.35 million in agricultural subsidies to the farmers, accounting for more than half of total state aid to the industry.

“If it is maintained, this proposal is very badly thought out,” a spokeswoman for the Norwegian Fur Breeders’ Association told AFP. “This will mean fewer nurseries and hospices in rural districts. It’s a policy that takes a short-term view.”

She said there are about 200 fur farms in Norway employing about 400 people under strict rules for animal welfare with annual sales of $44 million to $63 million.

[Read more about fur-free brands: The Brands and Retailers That Went Fur Free in 2017]

Animal rights groups critical of the conditions of animals in fur farms welcomed the proposal, which is up for negotiation with Norway’s agricultural trade groups.

“Fur farms are presented as the most profitable farming sector, but they still demand tens of millions of kroner in special aid,” said Live Kleveland from the Norwegian Society for Protection of Animals. “Sixty-eight percent of the population want to dismantle fur farms and most likely do not want their taxes going to this controversial sector.”

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Animal rights group Noah told Reuters that the decision was part of a shift against what it views as an outdated and cruel business with dwindling appeal to fashion-conscious consumers.

In 2013, Norway produced about 3 percent of the 7.3 million fox furs worldwide in a market dominated by China and Finland, according to Noah.

That same year, Norway produced one percent of world mink output of 72.6 million, a market also dominated by China.

Humane Society International, which campaigns against the fur trade, said in a statement that Norway was the 14th European nation to phase out fur farming “sparing animals who would otherwise spend their entire lives in cramped, barren cages.”

Many brands have eliminated fur from their collections over the years. Luxury powerhouse Gucci omitted fur from its entire product value chain last year, while VF Corp. unveiled its first Animal Derived Materials Policy and said its brands, including The North Face and Timberland, will no longer use angora, exotic leather or fur in their apparel and footwear products.