A 15-year long campaign to ban mink farming in the Netherlands came to an end today, when the Dutch Senate voted for a ban. The Netherlands is the world's third largest producer of mink, the annual production is around 5 million. Fox and chinchilla farming were already banned before today's vote.
The ban is based on ethical grounds. Several attempts to ban mink farming in the Netherlands on grounds of animal welfare have failed. Instead the ban is based on the assumption that fur is an unnecessary product.
Dutch political parties VVD, SGP, and CDA did not support the proposal to ban mink farming. The parties PvdD, Greens, PVV, SP, D66 and Christian Union voted for the proposal.
Once the law is adopted, there will be no permits for expansion or for new fur farms. The ban has a transition period of 10 years (2014-2024), and there is not foreseen any financial compensations for the farmers. However, a small fund will be given in order to cover the demolition of stables and cages.
Blizzards have hit China's Northern provinces, and cold weather always indicates higher fur sales on the important Chinese market. Beijing has seen 5.8 centimetres of precipitation (rain and snow combined), the highest daily total for any cold season since 1951, AFP reports.
"The combination of early snow in Beijing, and a remarkable growth in inland fur shopping centres, may well give the winter season a head start," says Mark Oaten, CEO of the International Fur Trade Federation.
Increasing global demand for fur products has driven prices for raw skins to record heights in recent years, and the high price levels were expected to have a knock-on effect to the retail sales.
"It is too early to jump to conclusions regarding the Chinese market, but surely there is a strong general demand in Asia. We know the winter collections are full of fur, and on top of that we have seen quite a lot of fur in the recent summer runways for Spring and Summer 2013," Mark Oaten says.
Following the increasing demand for fur, the global production of fur skins has also grown.
The Norwegian Fur Breeders' Association has taken away the certification license of a Norwegian farmer from Telemark, who this week had an unannounced visit from the Norwegian food Authorities (Mattilsynet).
The visit exposed several deeply wounded animals on the farm and has resulted in numerous veterinary charges, demand for euthanization of a number of animals and a police charge.
District manager Sigurd Espeland from the Norwegian food Authorities says that the conditions on the aforementioned farm was in some cases so bad that they decided to examine all animals on the farm. They considered the situation on the farm to be very serious enough for them to contemplate a ban of animal breeding for the farmer in question, however as the situation was a one-time event, they decided against this.
On the contrary, the Norwegian fur breeders' Association (Norsk Pelsdyralslag) took immediate action and chose to deprive the farmer of his certification license. Knut Berg, who is the Managing Director of the association states: "We have put a lot of work into improving animal welfare, not to mention the importance of our certification of all fur farms. The purpose of the certification is to raise the standards on the farms, and we see that animal welfare has improved. But we do have sanctions for those who fail to follow up. Breeders may lose licenses, which is what happened to the farmer we saw on the news report."
Prior to the visit from the food Authorities, which was based upon an anonymous tip, the two animal rights groups: the Norwegian Animal Protection group and Network for Animal Freedom (Dyrebeskyttelsen and Nettverk for dyrs frihet) trespassed 24 various fur farms during the summer. The footage and photos taken during these illegal visits have been published shortly after the police charged the farmer.
A new survey conducted by the European Fur Breeders Association shows that waste products from 66% of the European fur production is now being transformed into the important second-generation biofuel, which can be made from animal fat. Beginning to process fur animal carcasses this year, Italian fur producers are the most recent in the European fur sector to contribute to the European production of biofuel.
The survey coincides with a new proposal of the European Commission to minimize the climate impacts of biofuel production from first-generation biofuel. Recent scientific studies have shown that when taking into account indirect land use change, for example when biofuel production causes food or feed production to be displaced to non-agricultural land such as forests, some biofuels may actually be adding as much to greenhouse gas emissions as the fossil fuels they replace.
"Climate-wise, some of the biofuels [receiving EU subsidies] are as bad as, or even worse than the fossil fuels that they replace," EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said at a press conference 17th October.
Europe should rather focus on the more advanced second- and third-generation biofuels, and the new proposal, which will amend both the Biofuels and Fuel Quality Directives, contains measures aimed at preventing the EU from providing incentives for the continued displacement of food crops for fuel.
Director at the European Fur Information Center, Francoise Hossay, says that the ultimate goal of the European fur sector is to process biofuel from 100% of the production.
"The new survey tells me that the fur sector continues to improve. The European fur breeders have been working with sustainability concerns for a long time and want to go all the way, but there are a number of challenges, for example that access to processing plants is limited in many European areas," Francoise Hossay says.
22 million carcasses out of the European fur production of 33 million are being processed at bio plants. Besides from biofuel made from the fat, carcasses are transformed to fertilizer and other energy purposes. The fur sector also takes in waste from chicken- and fish productions and uses for feed to the fur animals.
Danish animal rights group Anima has been ordered by the court in Copenhagen to pay damages of 115,000 Euro to 34 Danish fur breeders. The damages were a result of the animal rights group's intrusion on the 34 fur farms in 2009, where group members jumped the fences in order to film the animals on behalf of Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet and Danish tv station TV 2. The journalist from Ekstra Bladet, who equipped the animal rights group with cameras, was acquitted by the court.
Following the intrusions in 2009, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration ordered the 34 fur farms to carry out blood tests for the much feared Aleuthians Disease that hits mink farms. Aleuthians Disease virus can easily be carried between mink farms if necessary precautions are not taken.
"We are satisfied that the court now has ruled that Anima pays damages. Through criminal activities, Anima has put the health of thousands of animals at risk on a number of Danish mink farms, and it has [now] been stated that you can not do this free from responsibility." says Communication Manager in Danish Fur Breeders Association Sander Jacobsen.
Undercover footage is a much used method for political campaigning within the international animal rights movement. Between November 2008 and November 2010 animal rights activists broke into almost 400 animal farms in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland to film the animals and claim poor animal welfare.
The world's largest fur auction house, Kopenhagen Fur in Denmark, concluded the sales season 2011/2012 with another year of record high sales figures. That is the third consecutive year in a row. The average price pr. mink skin ended at 63.85 Euro.
The amount of mink skins sold during the season set another record. Mink sales totaled an all-time high offering of 20 million skins plus a variety of other skin types including chinchilla, swakara and fox. Kopenhagen Fur's turnover for the season reached 1.41 billion Euro, the best result ever for the Danish fur auction house. Kopenhagen Fur is a cooperative owned by the Danish fur breeders.
China has been the dominant buyer throughout the season. China's dominance in the fur market has been strongly influenced by the favorable economic conditions in the country. As one of the few countries in the world, China has maintained an impressive economic growth at a time when virtually all other fur-consuming countries have been in major financial problems. The economic growth in China has created many consumers of fur, as the giant middle and upper classes use their new wealth to exhibit their success.
Other countries, too, are increasing their fur buying albeit slower than China. Russia - an important country in the framework of the BRIC countries - has seen a positive development over the last 12 months due to the high prices of oil and like China, Russia has a passion, tradition and especially a climate for fur. Thus, Russian customers contributed to prices reaching this high level during. Similarly, fur consumption is growing in South Korea.
The new initiative European Fur Information Center is the result of a close collaboration between the International Fur Trade Federation and the European Fur Breeders' Association, which brings together all branches of the European fur sector. The objective with European Fur Information Center is to create a strong reliable source of information to members of the European institutes and their stakeholders. The key strategy is to provide our members with transparent facts and figures from the industry.
Focused on a creative infographics in the Parliament magazine, each ad will provide a fact about the European fur trade, e.g. the progress of Welfur or the diversity in fur products. The campaign acknowledges the various views on the fur sector but argues with verified facts about the industry.
On www.furinformationcenter.eu the info graphics will be published as they are published in the Parliament Magazine. Moreover, the website will be a source of news from the sector - still with EU stakeholders as target group. All members are welcome to forward ideas and suggestions for the news roll.
This weekend 17 fur farms in Finland and Denmark open their doors and invites the public inside to see the conditions on modern fur farms with their own eyes. Finland starts on Saturday 15th September with 7 farms open.
"By giving the public an opportunity to visit a fur farm personally, we want people to get a real view of fur farming and thereby be able to make up their opinion based on real facts and conditions." says Max Arhippainen, Director for Community Relations and Communications at Finnish Fur Breeders Association. The event in Finland has been publicly announced in important newspapers and on various websites:
"By advertising about the event in the press we also give the signal to a larger public that the fur sector in Finland is open and transparent," Max Arhippainen says.
In Denmark 10 fur farms will receive visitors on Sunday 16th September. As it is tradition, the Danish agricultural sector invites the Danish public to visit the countryside on the third Sunday in September. Popularly known as \'Green Sunday\', the event easily draws 50,000 visitors each year, and it is as a part of this scheme the 10 Danish fur farms are inviting the public.
"All over the country we are ready to inform about our profession, and show how we breed mink on Danish mink farms. Many myths exist about Danish agriculture and we hope to change the myths a little on Sunday 16th September." says Tage Pedersen, Chairman of Danish Fur Breeders Association.
Norwegian fur farmers invited the public inside their farms in late August, and later this year fur farmers in Spain, Finland and Italy have similar Open Farm days. The main objective is to demonstrate transparency in the fur farming sector, especially with regard to animal welfare, which is becoming an increasing subject of concern to the general public.
The framework law was demanded finished from the European Parliament and The European Counsil in 2013/2014. The European fur breeders support the report:
"I cannot think of any other livestock production with as much appreciation of animal welfare legislation based on scientific research than the fur sector. We strongly support the report, and we continue the work with the implementation of Welfur in all fur producing countries in Europe," says Director at the European Fur Information Center, Francoise Hossay.
Welfur is an extension of the European Commission's Welfare Quality project applied to fur-farmed species.
On this Saturday in Stokrooie, Hasselt (Belgium)happened the International Chinchilla Show organized by the Belgium Chinchilla Association. As EFBA was invited we went on the event and enjoy the day surrounded by professional as wel as chinchillas amateurs.
This year once again, it was a big success with 9 differents countries and more than 467 animals from Regular, to Black Velvet en other colors called "Mutation". The assessors from Germany to Russia en even 2 students assessors from Letonia. Everything went smoothly and at the lunch break a lovely soup and sandwiches were served.
The day finished with many delivered prices and all the participants gathered for a festive evening meal.
On the 07/02/12 from 09h00 until 14h30 took place the WelFur "Kick Off Meeting". The presentation made by one of the expert on the protocols of the minks and the presentation made by another expert on the protocols of the foxes were brilliant. They explained "what is a protocol, how its built up, what measures have been included" They also showed some results from periods 1-3." Then ideas about implementations and the problems we would face depending the country and others factors.
We want to thank all our members once again for their participation, it cannot be done without you and Step by Step we will get there!
On the evening of the 31/01/12, EFBA together with IFTF celebrated their new offices in the heart of Brussels. More than 60 people gathered for the event. An introduction by the chairman of EFBA followed by a presentation from the Danish Ambassador were applaused warmly as the evening started. A final word from the CEO of EFBA and the CEO of IFTF closed the speeches with the latest news from the sector and both associations. Champagne and a coktaéil dinner was pretty much appreciated by the guests swifting from tables all along the office with flowers everywhere especially for the event. In one word a big Succes for this event that was left by all with a nice small gift bag to thank all the invitees of their venue.