MPs agree to outlaw `barbaric' mink farms

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The Independent Online
PLANS TO outlaw fur farming in Britain moved closer yesterday when MPs agreed to end such "barbaric practice" as long as farmers were compensated.

The Fur Farming (Prohibition) Private Member's Bill would mean an end for Britain's 13 remaining mink farms by January 2002 after a phasing out period.

Elliot Morley, minister for the countryside, said there was a "very clear" case against fur farming on animal welfare and morality grounds. He declined to give details about the amount of compensation that would be paid, but made it clear that any attempts to improve standards of farming instead would lead to uncertainty and even bankruptcy in the industry.

The Bill proposes that it should be a criminal offence, punishable by a fine of up to pounds 20,000, to keep animals for slaughter or for breeding, where the primary purpose is to obtain the value of their fur.

Between 100,000 and 150,000 young mink are slaughtered on farms each year for their pelts. Introducing her Bill, Maria Eagle, the Labour MP for Liverpool Garston, denied that the measure was an attempt to ban the wearing, purchase or sale of fur. It would solely aim to "prohibit the cruel exploitation of essentially wild animals for what is an inessential luxury item", she said.

The Bill was given an unopposed second reading.