Twenty years ago, Europe had a virtual monopoly on fur farming. At the turn of the millenium, 73% of all animals farmed for their fur were raised on European fur farms. Today, that figure is around 50%, and several EU countries have either banned fur farming entirely or are in the process of phasing it out. The top fur producing countries in Europe, including Denmark, Poland, the Netherlands, and Finland, have been joined by China, Russia, and the US.

COVID-19 has also put pressure on European fur farming. Mink farms, including in Spain and the Netherlands, have been told to cull thousands of animals (and the phasing-out of mink farming has been accelerated in the Netherlands as a result).

What do our readers think? We had a comment from Jovan, who points out Europeans have worn fur for thousands of years (since we all lived in “wooden huts”). Yet, despite Jovan’s comment, fur farming has now been banned in some EU countries and is being phased out in others. So, despite our history, is it wrong to wear fur?

To get a response, we spoke to Reineke Hameleers, CEO of the Eurogroup for Animals, an association of animal advocates across Europe campaigning to “measurably improve the protection of animals” in the EU. What would she say?

There is a short and a long answer for this good question. Yes, it is wrong, because we cannot get this practice right for the animals. Most importantly, the fur farming industry is inherently cruel because, as you may know, annually in the EU, tens of millions of mink, foxes, but also raccoon dogs and chinchillas are being killed for their fur. These are wild animals who are being kept in cramped conditions in wire cages for their entire lives. The problem is that they cannot express their natural behaviour, and we have seen numerous investigations that have exposed the extreme suffering of these animals. Only recently, one of our member organisations – Otwarte Klatki in Poland – published evidence of the systematic abuse of mink, for example, aggression among the animals, cannibalism, mink with deep wounds dying in their cages, lack of veterinary care, etc.

So, we believe it’s high time to ban this practice throughout the EU. Many Member States have already done that, and we believe it is very important for the others to follow their example. Because causing this tremendous suffering and taking the lives of animals for non-essential luxury and trivial reasons can never be morally justified.

For another perspective, we also spoke to Mette Lykke Nielsen, CEO of Fur Europe, an international member association representing all parts of the fur sector in Europe. How would she respond?

I think it’s definitely not wrong to wear fur. I think that in today’s society it’s the sustainable choice. Compared to ‘fast fashion’ that produces collection after collection after collection, we have natural products like fur, leather, and wool that is long-lasting and can be re-used a number of times, and survive for generations, not only for a month or two before becoming unwearable in the wash.

So, I think actually that fur is the sustainable choice. We see today – especially with younger generations – a trend towards buying clothes second-hand and getting them re-fitted, and fur really fits in with this agenda. I know furriers in many countries who make a living from re-fitting a lot of old winter clothing from their grandmothers or items they find in markets, so I think fur is a sustainable choice.

Next up, we had a comment sent in from Mimi, who worries that China has much lower animal welfare standards than Europe when it comes to fur products. If Europe stops producing fur, is there a risk that production will just move to other countries (with lower animal welfare standards)?

How would Reineke Hameleers, CEO of the Eurogroup for Animals, respond?

Yes, I think this is a serious concern and also a very good question. Indeed, there may be a risk that fur farmers might move abroad outside of the EU, but the fact that cruelty is still happening abroad can never be a reason to not take action in the EU. Because the EU is one of the global leaders on animal welfare, and they need to really keep up to that reputation and lead the way. Indeed, we have seen over the past decades that many other countries around the world have followed the EU’s example in banning certain cruel practices.

So, we believe that, also with consumer attitudes changing and consumers becoming increasingly aware of animal welfare issues, it’s a matter of time before fur farming will be banned all over the world. So, we really believe the EU should now start acting and ban this practice despite the fact that other countries and continents are still allowing for this practice.

Finally, what would Mette Lykke Nielsen, CEO of Fur Europe, say to Mimi’s comment?

I understand the worry, especially when it comes to China. It’s not only about the rules, it’s also about the enforcement, and in Europe we are very good at enforcing rules. So, I would say to Mimi that if she is going to buy fur, I would buy fur produced in Europe because you know here that we have high animal welfare standards. It’s not only me saying this, in Europe farmers have taken the step to go even further than the legislation, asking universities in Europe to develop an independent welfare programme, where they assess all the research that has been done on mink, and fox, and Finn racoon, and they make it into a WelFur protocol that is then checked on the farm. So, if I were Mimi, I would buy from a European farm because then I would be sure that animal welfare standards were high. When it comes to China, it comes to enforcement; whether they really are enforcing the laws that they have, this is not my expertise.

Is it wrong to wear fur? Should more EU countries ban or phase out fur farming? If Europe stops producing fur, is there a risk that production will just move to other countries (with lower animal welfare standards)? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: BigStock – (c) tereh

42 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Fei Fei

    There are videos showing how the animals struggled to death after their skin were peeled off. It’s so cruel. I don’t think anyone can wear fur after witnessing such a painful death. This type of fur farming practices should be banned. It’s one thing to use the fur after the animal died, it’s another thing to peel off its skin alive and leave it there to die painfully. I can accept the former, but the latter is too much.

    • avatar

      It might not be very wise to believe everything you see on the internet. There’s something called Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009 on the protection of animals at the time of the killing, which sets that standard of killing for all farmed animals. This is also where the difference between Europe and China is – standards, rules and control.

    • avatar

      Nobody does this. It is not true. You watched in somewhere, some time ago. These people were punished and those who are really concerned knows who ordered that video and were punished for that.

    • avatar
      Olger Scheepens

      indeed there are true videos about the crualty of killing animals. However that is to be punished. In Europe there ale laws. The problem is that the politians, veteranians and other institutes do not control, punish or bring the case to court. Many times the court let the people go. Green ones also. Letting animals loose from there cage when they have helpless puppies that die from hunger and cold is not a crualty? Welfur, EU and national regulations are the most strict regulations from breeding fur animals. Poultry, cattle and other farmed animals have less restrictions. why is everybody agains the best solution, best care and best environmental option. To make a better world we should take care of natural ways of producing natural products. Banning is so easy.

    • avatar
      Olger Scheepens

      hi Fei Fei, I fully agree with you that that should be banned. Killing animals alive is not acceptable and barbaric. However why banning family interest and the possibility of using sloughter offal to create natural vertilizer and buetiful natural fur. There are rules and laws for protecting people. Why is the police not punishing those who do not respect the law. Should be ban driving cars because there are some people speeding? respecting all live and using animals is not wrong. We eat meat, and use there manure to vertilize the land to grow crops. If not we need artificial vertilizers made from burning gas or coal which is more bad for nature and the planet. Look deeper then just one film.

  2. avatar

    It takes more regulations

    • avatar
      Olger Scheepens

      hi, we here more regulations more and more. But does that make our planet better? police should keep people respecting the excisitng rules. That should be enough. Fur breeding is allready the most regulated animal breeding branche. Poultry and cattle breeders should take it as an example. Animal welfare is almost perfect as it can be. breeders not respecting it should be in jail. not more regulations.

  3. avatar

    It is not wrong, it is sustainable and ecologic, just like leather, but only if the animals are bread for food purposes too. Animal production for only fur production purposes is wrong.

    • avatar
      Steven Harf

      In many cases, the whole carcass of fur bearing animals is used. The carcasses will go on to become various products such as pet food, animal feed, organic compost, fertilizer, paint, and even tires.  Carcasses sometimes go to animal sanctuaries, zoos, and aquariums to feed animals, and some end up as crab bait.

  4. avatar
    Mr. Bo Manderup

    European fur producers have implemented the best practices animal welfare programme ever seen, developed by independent researchers. The European Commission has given its approval for the welfare programme to be included in the EU database for self-regulation by the industry. The processing of fur, from farm to consumer, respects the best practice standards, Add to this that natural fur leaves only a fraction of carbon footprint compared to any other products, in particular fake fur. Thus, I see no reason why people should not wear fur with good conscience.

  5. avatar

    I don’t see no difference between raising animals for fur or food. Animal welfare is what is important to the animals.

  6. avatar

    The answer is easy If you just compare natural fur and fake ( 100% plastic ). But keep in mind animal welfare !

  7. avatar
    Natalia De Poli

    in Europe there are suitable laws to protect animals breed into farms, if you love animals you have to wish that they are breed in European farms.
    Fur is actually one of the more green product with long lasting time to be used.
    So Isn’t wrong to wear fur1

  8. avatar
    Christian Parmentier

    if you think in the long term, it is always better to go for natural products that have been obtained in a sustainable and responsible manner. Under those conditions, fur is a 100% responsible choice. In fact, it is irresponsible not to use natural materials for clothing, given the long-term damage to the environment, and finally to humans and animals.It is an illusion to think that we can live more in harmony with nature without using animals. This thinking is a symptom of total alienation from nature and harmful to the environment

  9. avatar
    Alessandro Sani

    It is certainly legitimate and ethical to wear fur because human beings and animals cannot be placed on the same level. The use of products of animal origin by humans must be responsible and respectful of the rules, but it is completely legitimate. The activists of extreme animal rights groups who not infrequently act in violation of the law, to force everyone else to behave according to their opinions, are highly dangerous for civil coexistence. These are intolerant and fanatical people who want to overrule the freedom of others. We are all underestimating these people, their aggressive methods, and their prohibitionist view of the world, but the time has come to counter them and prevent their criminal acts. Our freedom is at stake.

    • avatar
      Olger Scheepens

      Using slaughter offal to produce something natural is not bad. Using the manure from the animals is better then producing artificial vertilizer which you are eating later. That process costs a lot of energy (burning gas or coal) and produces a lot of CO. Artificial cloths or fur or fabric is made of plastic. Even the foodprint from Cotton is worse then that of plastic fiber and real fur.

  10. avatar

    I am for the defense of the planet, so I do not find it correct that we continue to wear plastic like fake fur, but we should always use more natural products.
    As for the animals, they must be produced where they are raised with greater well-being, so the farming of fur animals in Europe should not be prohibited, but encouraged.

  11. avatar

    Fur is sustainable, long lasting and beautiful. So I choose to wear it. Also vintage furs are great. Grandmothers old fur can be remodeled and be worn for decades again.
    The footage on the internet is not true, and one should not form the opinion based on that. Welfare on European fur farms is high, and a lot is done to improve it further in terms of research.

  12. avatar
    Christian Parmentier

    Fur is a beautiful, authentic and natural clothing material that meets the natural need to dress warmly and comfortably. Fur is an excellent choice as we all become aware of how our lifestyle affects nature.
    When you choose the natural clothing material fur that comes in a responsible and sustainable way, you can rest assured that fur is “eco-logical”.

    • avatar
      Olger Scheepens

      killing fish and other animals to use there products is ok? why is it YES!. Don’t you have questions about the matter. Using sloughter offal to produce something natural is not bad. Using the manure from the animals is better then producing artificial vertilizer which you are eating later. That process costs a lot of energy (burning gas or coal) and produces a lot of CO. Artificial cloths or fur or fabric is made of plastic. Even the foodprint from Cotton is worse then that of plastic fiber and real fur.

  13. avatar

    Penso che come in tutte le cose si deve trovare un giusto equilibrio.E’ vero che, soprattutto nel passato gli animali da pelliccia, e anche quelli per alimentazione umana venivano trattati a dispetto delle regole, come è vero che negli ultimi tempi specie in Europa, le associazioni di pellicceria di concerto con gli allevatori si sono dati regole sempre più stringenti riguardo all’animals welfare.Oltre a questo, in un’ottica di sostenibilità e di economia circolare, la pelliccia è tra i pochi capi veramente ecologici, per durata e degradabilità.(una pelliccia rimodellata dura fino a tre generazioni) a differenza della gran parte dell’abbigliamento confezionato con fibre sintetiche altamente inquinanti e non degradabili.
    Viviamo d’altra parte vestendo di pelli di origine animale quotidianamente basti pensare all’abbigliamento in pelle alle scarpe alle borse e l’elenco sarebbe lunghissimo.Il prossimo passo quale sarà?Eliminiamo le scarpe le borse per poi eliminare dall’alimentazione la carne il pesce ecc.?Troppe volte sento persone scandalizzarsi per l’uccisione del cervo o del cinghiale,e poi ritrovarsi al ristorante in rifugio di montagna e ordinare capriolo con polenta….

  14. avatar
    Myriam B

    Fur is part of a sustainable future, because it is natural recyclable ♻ , long lasting, and biodegradable. A fur product is handmade. I love fur , there is nothing comparable to the sensations it offers to you. It is beautiful , warm, soft and unique. What else?…Fur is part of the solution.

  15. avatar
    Kim Salvo

    Fur is fashion. No impostors. No substitutes. Fur is only real. Fur is a natural resource. When cared for properly a fur garment basically lasts forever, providing warmth and unlimited use. If you have ever worn a fur in the winter, you cannot find anything else that not keeps you as warm nor that feels so amazing. With a trendy cry for eco-friendly this and that, sustainability and natural products – – fur fashions have been fulfilling these global demands for a very long time.
    Ranched fur sources sustain the populations; farmed livestock will never be endangered. Fur ranches are 365 day a year operation. A rancher can control the quantity of what they breed, ensuring a fare market of fur trade and no waste. Ranched fur farms are not breeding domestic pets. Trapped fur follows trapping regulations and contributes to the ecosystem’s balance of nature as researched by wildlife biologists. Trapping also contributes to the economic livelihood of a region through trapping licenses and also ensures sustainable populations. A fur bearing animal provides resources far beyond it’s pelt: livestock feed, biofuel, mink oil, fragrance, fertilizer, meat and the useful purpose of all parts of the pelt with zero waste. Human life should only be valued with as much aggression that the groups of bullying animal rights organizations force their demands on our government. There are many things wrong in society. Wearing fur is NOT one of them and should not even be a question.

  16. avatar
    Olger Scheepens

    i think it is not wise to give you opinion if you do not know anything about the matter. In Poland the nobel price winner for literature this year signed a petition to stop, and ban fur farming. She has never seen or been at a mink farm. I write here something and read the opinions from others. I also read books and lecture. It seems I have more contact with literature then the nobelprice winner with fur farming. Does that give that me the right to say we should ban the nobelprice for literature?

  17. avatar

    The natural fur is the responsible choice!

  18. avatar

    Of course it is. No reason to keep this cruelty!

  19. avatar

    Eventually the wales the cocaroches will survive while the humans will disappear trying to save them

  20. avatar

    If second hand I’d consider it since it’s better than throwing it away and it’s good quality material to stay warm, it also has a long lifespan if well taken care of which makes it sustainable. I wouldn’t produce new furs though, since it leads to the extinction of animals for it. In conclusion: opt for the circular economy, not consumerism.

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