The financial crisis enveloping the fur trade has been closely monitored by Respect for Animals over recent years. North America’s fur trade has been particularly hit. Last year the North American Fur Auction (NAFA) had been taken over by Finnish fur group Saga Furs, having descended into near financial ruin. You can read the latest on Saga’s own troubles here: https://respectforanimals.org/desperate-saga-furs-moves-fur-auction-online-with-humiliating-results/ .
Now an in-depth report by Canadian news outlet CBC has revealed the astonishing extent of taxpayers’ money being wasted on failed attempt to prop up a cruel and unnecessary industry:
A CBC News analysis of bankruptcy and government records suggests that, since 2014, upwards of $100 million in provincial and federal money has been spent in Canada trying, often unsuccessfully, to keep individual mink farms afloat, or is tied up in loans by Crown agencies that will likely never be repaid.
The bulk of the money spent on the industry appears to have come through Agristability, a program jointly funded by the provinces and Ottawa that amounts to a disaster relief subsidy for farmers who suffer large income declines.
But so long and steep has been the fall of the mink sector that the bailouts dwarf what the industry is now worth. Last year, farms across Canada sold just $44 million worth of pelts, down from $254 million at the peak of the boom in 2013, according to Statistics Canada.
The precise amount of public money that’s been spent trying to rescue the mink industry after global prices took a nosedive in 2014 remains secret, however.
The federal Department of Agriculture refuses to release information on payments to the sector, even under access-to-information laws, citing among other things “international affairs” and “economic interests of certain government institutions.”
Not content with merely perpetuated a trade built upon inherent the suffering of animals, the remarkable actions of some fur farmers to seize profits was also disclosed.
The owners of a fur farm called Silver Hill had claimed that they had, over one March weekend, taken 20,000 mink from their cages and slaughtered them at their farm in western Prince Edward Island. The pelts were estimated to be worth up to $1 million to Asian fashion houses.
However, the fur farmers claimed that somehow all of those pelts had been ruined, meaning their income would suffer and their many creditors could not be paid. In a gruesome image of the fur industry’s environmental disregard, CBC reports that ‘looking for a way to dispose of the rotting pelts, the farm said they put the lot through a meat grinder and flushed it all down pipes and into the Gulf of St. Lawrence’.
Courts records, however, exposed the truth. The pelts were not destroyed but were instead transported to a freezer off-island, ‘apparently away from the prying eyes of creditors’.
Unsurprisingly this farm has received lavishly large sums of public money — up to $8 million in government loans and bailout payments.
This is a damning indictment of the fur industry and another example of why taxpayer money should not be used to prop up one of the world’s most inhumane industries. Fur factory farming should be allowed to die out and farmers supported to diversify into sustainable agriculture that does not rely upon terrible conditions for its profit margins.
It is clear that the Canadian fur factory industry is financial unviable and a disastrous failure for animals, unable to meet even the most basic standards of animal welfare. Respect for Animals hopes that Canada soon joins the UK and many other countries by introducing a fur farm ban once and for all.