A bill in the House of Representatives would outlaw the farming of foxes, minks, and other animals for fur in the state.
If House Bill 1718 passes, the production and sale of fox, mink, marten, and chinchilla fur would be illegal, beginning next year. Each violation would be considered a misdemeanor.
Exceptions would be made for religious and tribal purposes, as well as products made from used fur.
Those in favor of the bill say that it is needed to stop an industry centered around the inhumane treatment of animals.
“Everything about fur farming is rooted in animal cruelty — from the breeding process to a brutal death, an animal’s entire life is spent in a cage,” said Hannah Thompson-Garner, director of policy and legislative affairs with the Northwest Animal Rights Network, during a hearing for the bill earlier this week.
Wendy Linton, another commentator, said that the minks and foxes spend their lives trapped in small cages that hurt their paws.
“Fashion is a terrible excuse for animal exploitation,” Linton said.
Proponents of the bill also pointed out that fur farming can lead to the spread of zoonotic pandemics. COVID-19 has spread on fur farms.
“These farms are a public health threat,” Linton said.
Those against the bill said that it was a violation of individual liberty, claiming that the government would be telling people what they could and could not wear.
“We should not go down this slippery road of inserting the government into people’s closets,” said Mike Brown, head of sustainability and communications with the Natural Fibers Alliance.
He worried that the fur ban could lead to bans on other animal products like leather, and even products that do not require killing the animal, such as wool.
Other opponents like Challis Hobbes said that stopping the industry would be a hardship for fur farmers.
“This bill does create more stress and mental health issues for small, family-owned farms,” said Challis Hobbs, director of Fur Commission USA.
That is why some of the bill’s supporters are asking for an addition to the bill that would provide government subsidies for farmers to help them transition out of fur farming.
The bill is currently sitting in the House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture & Natural Resources. To be passed this session, bills must pass out of committee by February 7.