Fur used from animals caught in the wild is not considered farmed fur, and is instead known as 'wild fur'. Most of the world’s farmed fur is produced by European farmers. There are 6,000 fur farms in the EU. The EU accounts for 63% of global mink production and 70% of fox production. Denmark is the leading mink-producing country, accounting for approximately 28% of world production. Other major producers include China, the Netherlands, the Baltic states, and the U.S. Finland is the largest United States supplier of fox pelts. The United States is a major exporter of furskins. Major export markets include China, Russia, Canada, and the EU.
Exports to Asia as a share of total exports grew from 22% in 1998 to 47% in 2002. China is the largest importer of fur pelts in the world and the largest exporter of finished fur products.
Fur farming is banned in Germany, Austria, Croatia and the United Kingdom. In Switzerland, the regulations for fur farming are very strict, with the result that there are no fur farms. Some other countries have a ban on fur farming of certain types of animals.
Demand fell in the late 1980s and 1990s because of a number of factors, including the failure of designers to come up with exciting new lines, and also the efforts of animal rights campaigners. Since the turn of the millennium, however, sales worldwide have soared to record highs, fueled by radically new techniques for working with fur, and a sharp rise in disposable income in China and Russia. This growing demand has led to the development of extensive fur farming operations in China and Poland."
There are currently 5 licensed mink farms operating in the Republic of Ireland and, between them, it is estimated that 200,000 to 225,000 mink are farmed. The type of mink farmed for fur is the American mink. One of the mink farms used to also rear and slaughter foxes for their fur. The types of foxes farmed for fur are silver foxes and arctic foxes. Compassion in World Farming – Ireland understands from the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine that there are no foxes being farmed at present. However, fox farming continues to be legal in the Republic of Ireland. Latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (Ireland) show that fox pelts were exported from the Republic of Ireland in 2009, 2010 and a small number in 2011.
The Ex-Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, established a Review Group in his Department in November 2011 to review fur farming. Compassion in World Farming - Ireland made a detailed submission to the Review Group, calling for fur farming to be banned on animal welfare grounds. In November 2012, Minister Coveney's Review Group completed its report. The report, Report of the Fur Farming Review Group 2012, recommends that fur farming is allowed to continue.
In answer to a Parliamentary Question from by Maureen O'Sullivan, TD, Minister Coveney said: "I have given careful consideration to the series of recommendations contained in the report and I accept the recommendation not to ban fur farming." (Question Number 560, 18th December 2012)
In October 2011, fur farming was debated in Seanad Éireann (the Irish Senate).
For information about the threat to native wildlife from escaped mink in Ireland, a report by the Irish National Parks and Wildlife Service, A Review of Mink Predation and Control For Ireland discusses this in detail. It concludes, on page 50, that continued operation of fur farms in Ireland means that: "Escapes from these will continue to threaten the wildlife of Ireland ...".
Many times I have personally emailed and sent letters to Simon Coveney and I have battled him in the past. He is currently running for Taoiseach against Mr. Leo Varadkar, but by Jod he will not become Taoiseach of Ireland.