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Citizens’ initiative aims to outlaw fur production

Animal rights campaigners have been trailblazers in utilising a new form of citizen participation, known as the ’citizens’ initiative’. If interest groups gather signatures from 50,000 Finns within six months, their legislative proposal will be considered by Parliament.

Turkistarhaton Suomi-nettisivu
The campaign to ban fur farming has been active online. Image: turkistarhatonsuomi.fi

The new law came into force on 1 March, and the ’fur farm-free Finland’ campaign was one of the first to try use it to bring in legislation. Up to now, some 42,000 people have signed their anti-fur-farm proposal.

"The campaign has been well-received and people have supported it in pleasing numbers," said Ilkka Hiltunen of the Finnish Nature League, which backs the campaign. The six month deadline will be up in mid-November, and Hiltunen points out there is still sufficient time for the remaining 8,000 signatures to be collected.

Sami Säynevirta, who chairs the animal protection organisation Animalia, says he believes it is only a matter of time before fur farming ends in Finland.

"There are already countries in Europe where fur farming is banned, or where it is severely restricted," said Säynevirta. "It cannot be said in any way that these animals are able to enjoy the kind of life they deserve on these farms."

The campaign was initiated by Animalia, Oikeutta eläimille ('Justice for Animals'), the Finnish Federation for Animal Welfare Associations and the Finnish Nature League.

Open doors on Sunday

Many fur farms held open-house events on Sunday, noting that leaders of animal-rights groups were also welcome to visit.

Supporters of fur farming argue that the sector provides many jobs and pays considerable taxes in Finland. They also note that nearly all of the materials used, including fodder, are domestic.

Select fur farms last opened their doors to the public a year ago.

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