UPDATE1-Hundreds protest in Poland against proposal to ban fur breeding

16 Sep 2020 / 20:12 H.

    (Adds colour and quotes from a protester)

    WARSAW, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Hundreds of protesters angered by a Polish government plan to ban the breeding of animals for fur rallied on Wednesday in front of the headquarters of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, facing off against a line of police.

    PiS submitted a bill proposing the ban, which excludes rabbit fur, and party head Jaroslaw Kaczynski cited animal welfare as the reason. Poland's lower house of parliament, the Sejm, is due to debate the bill later on Wednesday.

    Its opponents say such a ban would cause a number of farms to go bankrupt. Poland produces millions of furs a year, and the sector employs about 50,000 people.

    "Kaczynski: traitor to farmers," the crowd chanted outside the building in central Warsaw.

    The proposed ban is causing divisions in the government. Agriculture Minister member Jan Ardanowski has sent a letter to his PiS colleagues warning that the bill would discourage rural supporters. PiS's candidate Andrzej Duda was narrowly re-elected in July as president, in large part thanks to rural votes.

    "PiS's image losses will be permanent and very difficult to reverse, impossible to compensate by any means before the next elections," Ardanowski's letter said, quoted by the portal.

    The PiS-led coalition's aim is for the ban to enter into force within one year.

    "I have been breeding animals for 10 years now and still have 7 million zloty of debt to repay," protester Jerzy, 45, told private broadcaster TVN24, as he stood alongside protesters carrying Polish flags.

    "What is happening here is insane, I wonder if we live in a country which has the rule of law." (Reporting by Marcin Goclowski; Additional reporting by Pawel Florkiewicz Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Angus MacSwan)

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