Ontario fur farms receiving millions in government benefits

Fur farms in Ontario are accessing millions of dollars in government supports while the fur fur industry continues to decline.

Documents obtained by The Fur-Bearers through a Freedom of Information request reveal that over $15 million has been paid to fur farmers from 2013 to 2020 under the AgriStability program.

AgriStability is a joint federal, provincial, and territorial program that supports agricultural producers when they face large income declines. In Ontario, the program is delivered by the provincial government. The records show that producers who earn their primary income from fur farming received significant support through AgriStability in recent years, with as much as $4.6 million being paid out in a single year (2015).

Documents obtained from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs by The Fur-Bearers

In 2019, $2.7 million was paid to 30 producers in Ontario. To put this into perspective, farm cash receipts for farmed fur in Ontario totalled only $10.9 million in 2019. Because of the fickle nature of the luxury fashion industry and an increasing number of major retailers going fur-free, it’s no surprise that fur farming is experiencing economic problems. But despite consumers and retailers distancing themselves from fur products, provincial and federal governments are keeping fur farming alive through public funding programs like AgriStability. A CBC News analysis from 2020 into the mink farm sector found that upwards of $100 million has been spent by the federal and provincial governments trying to keep mink farms in operation or has been provided through loans by government agencies.

Fur farming is cruel and threatens public health

Animals on fur farms suffer in small wire cages and are unable to express any natural behaviours throughout their entire lives. These are wild animals like mink and foxes that belong in the wilderness, not in cages. In 2018, fourteen charges were laid against an Ontario mink farm after an undercover investigation revealed the horrific conditions that these fur-bearing animals endured on this farm. To learn more about the conditions of fur farms in Canada, view our page on fur farming.

In addition to the animal welfare issues of fur farming, mink farms pose a particular risk to public health, with British Columbia having decided to phase-out the industry altogether due to its dangers. In the face of these risks and harms, it is unconscionable that governments continue to financially support the practice of fur farming.

Modern society has largely rejected fur farming as cruel and unnecessary. A recent poll shows that 75% of Ontarians would support a federal ban on fur farming.

It’s time for the federal and provincial governments to remove fur farming from its AgriStability program and end fur farming. Fur farming is cruel to animals, threatens public health, and exists solely to create luxury fashion products that no one needs.

TAKE ACTION

Residents of Ontario, contact your MPP and express your concerns about fur farming in the province. Look up the contact details for your elected representative at https://www.ola.org/en/members/current/contact-information. You can also contact Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Lisa Thompson at minister.omafra@ontario.ca.

Be respectful and polite when bringing up your concerns. Here are some points you can include:

  • The Ontario Government needs to work with the federal government to remove fur farming from the AgriStability program. Public funds shouldn’t be supporting an industry that threatens public health, is cruel to animals, and is environmentally harmful.
  • Mink farming is a public health risk as mink are susceptible to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Transmission of the virus to mink can lead to the development of new variants of concern, this risk undermines Ontario’s vaccination efforts.
  • On Ontario’s fur farms, wild animals like mink and foxes are kept in small wire cages unable to express any natural behaviours. This is a cruel practice that exists solely to create luxury fashion products that no one needs.
  • Numerous countries around the world have banned fur farming. In 2021, British Columbia became the first province in Canada to ban mink farming.
  • It’s time for the Ontario Government to end all financial support of the fur farm industry and prohibit fur farming, investing in sustainable and ethical sectors instead.
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Established in 1953, The Fur-Bearers is a charitable, non-partisan organization whose goals are to end the commercial fur trade and promote solutions for wildlife coexistence in communities. Your donation is tax-deductible. Charitable registration number: 130006125RR0002

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