Fur industry advocates plan to continue to turn up the heat on the New York City Council, in response to its proposal for a bill that would ban the sale of fur apparel.
Initially put forward by Council Speaker Corey Johnson and City Council members Mark Levine, Fernando Cabrera, Justin Brannan, Helen Rosenthal and Robert Holden, the proposal has since been moved to the Committee on Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing for further discussion.
If approved, violations would be punished by a civil penalty of no more than $500 for the first violation, and no less than $500, but no more than $1,500 for subsequent violations. Fur apparel sold or offered for sale would be subject to seizure and forfeiture.
Nancy Daigneault, vice president of the Americas for the International Fur Federation, said Friday that a number of furriers and other fur advocates have met with their respective council members and have contacted their offices. “In the last week, furriers have been picking up the phone and calling themselves and meeting with City Council members in their district, or sometimes staff if the members aren’t available,” she said. “We’re hopeful that the city will listen that it’s an ill-conceived ban. It will shut down thriving businesses, small businesses, multigenerational ones. It is a very important industry in New York, it has a long track record. We’ve provided jobs for years and years and years, and tax revenue. This is an invented problem. We want to protect these jobs. New Yorkers want leaders to fix real problems and not create new ones, and not be playing the role of fashion police and getting in the way of consumer choice. We should have the freedom to choose what we can and cannot buy.”
In addition, 150 furriers and workers aired their disapproval outside City Hall on March 28, calling for the bill to be axed.
Daigneault estimated that 12 to 15 meetings have been held with council members and/or their staff. Going forward, the plan is “to continue to drive home our message about sustainability, the longevity of fur, about fake fur being plastic-based, and obviously about the jobs that will be affected in the city, which is significant,” she said, adding that fur supporters will continue to keep knocking on doors, making phone calls and setting up meetings.
The City Council had received letters and signatures in opposition to the proposed ban.
Referring to economic impact analysis has indicated that if the fur industry were to be wiped out, the tax revenue loss over a 10-year period would be about $3.3 billion, Daigneault said. “So we’re talking about people losing their jobs, losing their livelihoods, significant tax revenue that would be lost in the city. We’re talking about storefront closures in the Garment District. That’s the last thing the Garment District needs. The City Council should think twice before shutting down thriving businesses,” she said.