This Sunday, the first open farm event took place in Sweden and around 400 people showed - some even traveling up to 400 km just to visit the mink farm.
The farm placed in south of Sweden has a production of 2000 breeding females and is owned by father and son Sten and Tomas Gustavsson, who were both very pleased with the large turn up of people interested in seeing what they work with every day.
Johan Dalén, who is the Managing Director of Swedish Fur Breeders' Association is also content with the event: "I am very happy with our first Open Farm day in Sweden. The group of visitors was highly diverse and counted families with children, politicians, welfare authorities, and even a group of vegan activists in noticeable opposition to meat and fur industries. I was very happy indeed, to meet many Swedish farmers who seriously consider starting fur farms themselves."
On Sunday, 10 fur farms opened up for the public in Denmark and nearly 5000 people spent their Sunday afternoon in the company of their families, mink puppies, and fur farmers.
The 10 open farms were spread wide around the country and besides the owners of the farm, many other fur farmers volunteered to come and give guided tours to the many visitors. Besides holding 2-3 weeks old mink puppies and hearing about the life on a mink farm, the visitors could have a cup of coffee, eat a hotdogs and the children could play around on bouncy castles.
Sunday was also the day for Norway to host an open farm event with four open farms and also here the visitors could enjoy the possibility to hold and see the new mink puppies.
Sweden will open their doors this Sunday on the 19th of May and this will be the first time that the Swedish Fur Breeders’ Association is arranging an event in a mink farm for the public.
On Thursday 11. April, 340 fur farmers in Poland will officially become members of the European Fur Breeders' Association (EFBA). This happens at EFBA's Annual General Meeting in Sirmione, Italy.
With a production of 5,4 million mink skins in 2012, Poland is becoming a heavy weight in the European fur production sector. The Polish production makes up more than 15% of the total European production - and is likely to grow further. Mr. Daniel Chmielewski, Chairman of the Polish Fur Breeders' Association, says:
"Exchange of information, experience and knowledge is an extremely valuable tool to establish a modern and professional department of agriculture. Drawing on best practices of foreign breeders on how to run a farm, we are also increasing the quality of breeding in Poland. We also know that, thanks to the cooperation with an actively engaged organisation like EFBA, we will be able to better represent the interest of Polish breeders on the global market. We also hope that our experience and some of the solutions we have will help other European farmers."
Myths and prejudices about the European fur industry thrive. A disturbing 15% of the Europeans believe that fur animals farmed in Europe often or always are skinned alive.
The misperception is most outspoken in Spain where 24% of the population think that fur animals may be alive while they are being skinned. Living in a large mink producing country the Danes seem to be better informed. Yet 7% of the Danish population believe European fur animals are skinned alive. The figures are derived from at survey conducted by independent market research company Ipsos in the UK, Poland, France, Spain, Denmark, and the Netherlands in 2013. The survey was commissioned by the European Fur Breeders' Association and the International Fur Trade Federation.
"The public opinion in Europe has certainly been influenced by animal rigths organizations spreading misleading information about the sector. These figures calls for us to strengthen the level of information about fur farming in Europe, and we are already expanding Open Farm schemes in Europe. Nothing works better when convincing people than to have them see the animals' conditions with own eyes," says Francoise Hossay, CEO at the European Fur Breeders' Association.
The Ipsos survey also states that 51% of the Europeans gain their information about fur and fur farming from animal rights organizations.
European fur animals are either gassed or elctrocuted in accordance with European or national regulations. In order to achieve the best possible pelting result the dead bodies are cooled down 24 hours prior to the pelting process.
Finnish fur auction house, Saga Furs, celebrates two anniversaries this year, namely 75 years for the auction house and 25 years for the Saga Furs Design Centre.
"Service and quality have had the top priority since 1938, and hard work has been the driving force. A key strength lies in the fact that the auction house holds a strategic and unique position as the bridge between the fur trade and the fashion industry," says CEO Pertti Fallenius to Saga Furs' website.
European fur farmers increased the production again in 2012. According to new industry figures the total amount of European produced mink skins were 33.5 million last year compared to 31.3 million skins in 2011. Since 2005, when the production counted 24,8 million skins, the European production of mink has grown by more than 30%.
"Fur farming is certainly a growing sector in Europe, and new farms start everywhere. We also get many inquiries from Eastern European countries with hardly any fur farming traditions. The rumors about the economic potential in fur farming seem to travel East at the moment," Managing Director at the European Fur Breeders Association (EFBA) Francoise Hossay says.
Even in the Netherlands where fur farming just has been banned from 2024 there is activity. This week Dutch media reported news of a farmer who sought to shift the production from chicken to mink - despite the ban.
The demand for fur skins is much driven by Chinese demand both also the Russian and North American markets are keen on fur at the moment.
"The European fur farmers are the real winners at the moment. Even though the Chinese production of mink is growing faster than in Europe right now, the Chinese farmers are not able to deliver the same quality," Francoise Hossay says.