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US News Mink farms in the sights

23:03  28 september  2020
23:03  28 september  2020 Source:   liberation.fr

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Un élevage de vison en Biélorussie, en 2012. En France, il ne reste plus que quatre élevages. © Sergei Grits A mink farm in Belarus, in 2012. In France, there are only four farms left. Fur farms specializing in mink farming may have to close their doors soon. The announcement by Barbara Pompili, Minister for the Ecological Transition, is expected in the coming days.

After dragging on for months, the case is accelerating: the Minister of Ecological Transition, Barbara Pompili, is expected to announce soon the ban on mink farming. “According to our information, the government has bowed to pressure from animalists. The arbitration was rendered without a desire for consultation, "chokes Pierre-Philippe Frieh, spokesperson for the French Fur Federation, who denounces a" lynching campaign ". For her part, Muriel Arnal, president of the animal defense association One Voice, calmly awaits the next announcements: "We are very confident."

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More than four farms in France

This probable outcome follows long discussions that began eighteen months ago. In April 2019, François de Rugy, then Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, announced the creation of a working group on "the well-being of captive wildlife". Objective stated: to improve the living conditions of animals kept in zoos, dolphinariums, circuses and mink farms. Numerous meetings bringing together NGOs, experts and players in the sector resulted in 250 proposals. But the announcement of government measures is repeatedly pushed back. Succeeding François de Rugy, Elisabeth Borne declared in August 2019 that she will present her action plan in the fall ... It is therefore a year late that the first arrangements resulting from this working group should take place.

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This sudden acceleration is undoubtedly not unrelated to the success of RIP, this referendum of shared initiative launched on July 2 by three big digital bosses, including Xavier Niel, CEO of Free. This project, which includes six flagship measures in favor of animals, has indeed obtained unprecedented support: 141 parliamentarians have already declared themselves in favor of this initiative, which has also gathered the support of 777,000 citizens. However, among the measures proposed by the RIP is the ban on the breeding of animals for their fur by 2025. This same measure was included in a bill (PPL) carried by Cédric Villani and the EDS group (Ecologie Démocratie Solidarity), as well as by deputies belonging to other political parties, in particular Modem, Agir, LREM, or PS. Strongly inspired by the RIP, this PPL filed on August 25 will be examined on October 1 by the Economic Affairs Committee.

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This double pressure RIP-PPL therefore seems to have accelerated the announcements of Barbara Pompili, who primarily targets mink farms, an already weakened sector. The sector has in fact experienced a sharp decline over the past ten years: France has only four farms of this type, often family structures which only support a handful of employees. “These farms are closing one after the other. Seven have gone out of business in the space of four years, says Muriel Arnal of One Voice. In many European countries, such breeding is already banned or in the process of being. We hope that France will stop shaming us. ”

"Civilizational rupture"

The ban on these fur farms would be far from revolting the French: according to several recent opinion polls, a large majority of those polled say they are opposed to such farms as well as to the fur trade. A phenomenon to which One Voice is no stranger: the association has broadcast several surveys testifying to the terrible living conditions of mink - wounded, mutilated animals, with necrotic limbs, locked in tiny wire cages ... But another factor, and not of the least, pleads in favor of the prohibition of such farms: the spread of the coronavirus within these farms, in particular in the Netherlands, where since April, suspicions of transmission between animals and humans led authorities to slaughter hundreds of thousands of mink. “The Netherlands had decided to put an end to these farms by 2024. The Covid precipitated things and the authorities decided to close their 160 farms. Finland is preparing to do the same for its 700 farms, "continues Muriel Arnal, for whom closing four farms in France is therefore no feat.

But the industry does not hear it that way. "We are sacrificing an economic sector and jobs to satisfy the demands of the active animalist minority, known as 'anti-speciesist'", indignant the French Fur Federation in a statement that even mentions a "civilizational break". And to add: "The fur industry will ask for referral to the Constitutional Council in front of this unprecedented decision depriving of liberty."

Will these threats be enough to push back Barbara Pompili? Probably not. But the minister knows that in the next cases (circuses, zoos and dolphinariums), the responses are likely to be even more violent.

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