Fur Trade Fights itself!
BY DANNY PENMAN
(from The Sunday Express, February 21 1999)
Britain's fur farmers have decided not to oppose a ban on their industry in a move which has sparked a bitter internal battle within the fur trade.
The infighting is likely to ensure that a bill outlawing fur farming, which is published on Tuesday, is almost certain to become law.
Len Kelsall, chairman of the Fur Breeders' Association, which represents the interests of the farmers, said: "We've got to be realistic. We don't stand a chance of defeating this Bill."
"The British Fur Trade Association [which represents the wider fur trade] is a more fundamentalist organisation than us. They just want us to fight, fight, fight forever more. We're pragmatic farmers and we want a deal. But the deal has to be a fair compensation for our livelihoods."
The wider fur trade, which includes fur processors, traders and manufacturers, are said to be furious about the farmers' apparent change of heart.
Jan Brown, of the British Fur Trade Association, reacted angrily to suggestions of a split within the industry. She said: "People should get their facts straight. The National Farmers' Union and the Fur Breeders Association oppose this Bill."
Ms Brown added: "The only outcome of this Bill will be to destroy British farmers livelihoods and reduce much needed income into rural communities."
Support for the fur trade has started to evaporate in recent weeks. The Conservative Party and the Countryside Alliance, which represents the bloodsports lobby, have both decided not to formally oppose the bill. A few Tory MPs may, however, try and filibuster it. Only the National Farmers Union actively opposes the Bill.
Tim Yeo, shadow Minister of Agriculture, said: "We won't take any steps to block this Bill. We realise that the conditions on fur farms are far from satisfactory and we recognise the concerns felt by the animal welfare lobby."
Maria Eagle, who is introducing the Private Members Bill, said: "My Bill is aimed solely at fur farming. It has no wider implications than that."
"One way we can judge our society is by how we treat other creatures. I believe the way in which we treat wild animals 'farmed' for their fur is a national disgrace. The trade has declined in Britain - it is about time it stopped"