Estonia Becomes 14th European Nation to Ban Fur Farming
Estonia is the latest nation to ban fur farming. | Jonatan Pie/Unsplash

Estonia Becomes 14th European Nation to Ban Fur Farming

Estonia is the latest European nation to ban fur farming, and the first-ever Baltic state to do so. The amendments follow a decade of campaigning by animal welfare groups.

Estonia just became the first Baltic state to ban fur farming.

The Riigikogu (Estonia’s parliament) passed amendments to the existing Animal Protection Act and Nature Conservation Act on Wednesday.

The act will now prohibit the breeding and keeping of animals solely or primarily for the purpose of fur farming, thereby excepting sheep and rabbit breeders. According to ERR News, 56 MPs voted in favor and 19 voted against the amendments.

“It’s a great day for the thousands of animals who will be saved from a life of suffering thanks to Estonia passing this law,” said Connor Jackson, CEO of Open Cages, in a statement sent to LIVEKINDLY.

According to a 2020 survey carried out by data and business insight company Kantar Emor, 75 percent of those living in Estonia are opposed to fur farming.

Why Has Estonia Banned Fur Farming?

According to the Fur Free Alliance, current European fur farming practices are incompatible with even the most basic animal welfare standards, as well as EU law. Animals typically live in cramped, oppressive conditions and often experience both injury and disease.

Within the context of increasing global environmental efforts, the enormous negative impact of factory fur farms is both unnecessary and incongruous. The industry as a whole creates pollution, reduces biodiversity, and emits greenhouse gases.

Estonia has been discussing a potential ban since 2009, and the overall number of fur farms has significantly decreased since then. Today, the number of animals farmed has fallen from around 200,000 to just under 1,000, as per data from Open Cages.

At the beginning of 2021, the largest fur farm in Estonia (with a peak occupancy of 170,000 animals) announced that it is now empty. The government will issue no new permits for keeping mink and raccoon dogs after July 1, 2021, and will completely prohibit this style of fur farming after January 1, 2026.

The new amendments make Estonia the 14th European nation to ban fur farming. This includes the UK, which has prohibited fur farming for over 20 years but is no longer a member of the EU.

Will the UK Finally Update Its Own Legislation?

The UK government has banned farming itself but not yet restricted the import and sale of fur (neither has Estonia). But as an early adopter of fur farm bans, the UK faces pressure to lead the global shift away from fur. Also, Britain has imported £434,817 worth of fur from Estonia in the past five years, bypassing existing restrictions.

However, the current Conservative government recently published a “call for evidence” that could support more comprehensive legislation on import and sales.

Humane Society International/UK (HSI/UK), the founding organization behind the #FurFreeBritian campaign and coalition, recently revealed that 72 percent of Brits would support further restrictions on fur. Just three percent of the public actually wear animal fur.

“The majority of Brits want nothing to do with the cruelty of fur farming and trapping and support a ban on fur being imported and sold here,” said Claire Bass, executive director of HSI/UK, in a statement sent to LIVEKINDLY. “This is an important opportunity for both individual consumers and fashion businesses to let the government know that fur is firmly out of fashion in the UK.”

Open Cages is also a member of the #FurFreeBritian coalition. Jackson added: “As the latest country [Estonia] to rid themselves of this cruel industry, it’s more clear than ever that the UK must ban fur imports and finish what we started two decades ago.”

As fur becomes increasingly unpopular, many mainstream brands have been quick to distance themselves from the industry. Valentino, Saks Fifth Avenue, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, and Adidas are just some of the most recent brands to announce a move away from fur.