Sustainable Fur Forum

EU Needs Comprehensive Legislation on Animal Welfare


Jun 09 2020 - The European Fur community welcomes the recent publication of a roadmap for the evaluation of the EU legislation on the welfare of farmed animals. The Fitness Check is part of the actions on animal welfare foreseen by the Farm to Fork Strategy to help the European Commission reflect on what further legislative and non-legislative actions are needed to align the EU’s animal welfare regulatory framework with the objectives of the F2F Strategy and the Green Deal. According to the fur sector, a simplified legislative framework and appropriate communication and information to consumers are the two critical aspects for a successful strategy. Far before the release of the F2F Strategy, Fur Europe has been advocating in favour of a single and comprehensive EU legislative framework for animal welfare. Up to now, the legislation mostly includes general provisions (e.g. Directive 98/58/EC concerning the protection of animals kept for farming purposes) and some rules regarding species-specific issues but no overarching legislation. Thus, various animal production systems and different parts of the value chain are covered by differing requirements, which has caused a fragmentation of animal welfare rules for livestock. The solution against this fragmentation is the adoption of a single and comprehensive Animal Welfare Framework Law on the model of Regulation (EU) 2016/429 on transmissible animal diseases (‘Animal Health Law’). The latter lays down general and specific rules for the prevention and control of transmissible animal diseases and ensures a harmonised approach to animal health across the EU. Similarly, a comparable Framework Regulation for animal welfare should apply to the entire EU livestock sector to streamline the amount of existing legislative acts and identify a harmonised set of science-based animal welfare principles. This includes clarity of duties and harmonised training for all actors of the value chain (farmers, transporters, vets, competent authorities), a uniform AW assessment methodology and sharing of good practices between the Member States. A new legislative framework will only be effective if it leads to a shift from input-based to output-based indicators. Animal scientists called for adopting animal-based indicators as a way to measure animals’ wellbeing rather than resource-based as they look directly at the individual animal and assess their physical and mental states. The WelFur programme, developed and launched by the fur sector in 2009, is a good example of such an approach. The Welfur certification requires three farm assessments and the maintenance of the certificate involves one assessment per year. It covers all EU fur farms, and without it, fur farmers cannot sell their production via international fur auction houses. Despite total compliance with animal welfare requirements and private industry initiatives like WelFur, often, consumers’ knowledge of animal welfare is not based on the reality of farming systems but prejudices and received ideas. The mismatch is often attributed to the disconnection between the rural and urban world. European farmers rely on adequate communication to help consumers understand fully the animal welfare improvements taking place on farms. Adequate discussion about animal welfare should start with a clear definition and explanations about measuring methods expending beyond emotions and anthropomorphism. In this regard, the EU should take a position in favour of fact-based and science-based indicators for animal welfare. But the Union also has another role; to encourage certification and labelling systems based on science and third-party assessments, on the model of WelFur, through financial and non-financial incentives. Such a move could steer consumers’ purchasing habits through reliable product information and offer a commercial advantage to producers adopting responsible practices. Such a step would be in line with the increased transparency foreseen by the F2F Strategy and is directly linked to the objective of improving animal welfare within the EU livestock sector. Fur Europe will gladly bring its contribution to the European Commission’s fitness check by hoping that Commission will agree that AW is not a cost but an asset. Farmers’ livelihoods depend on the quality of their products, which in turn depends on the good health and welfare farmers provide to animals. This asset requires an overarching Animal Welfare Framework Law relying on science and fostering transparency and labelling schemes.

Sustainable fashion

Change in Fashion? Experts Say It is Now or Never


Jun 09 2020 - The coronavirus is a chance for the fashion industry to start over, claim leading fashion experts. Leading industry professionals see in Covid-19 an opportunity for the apparel and footwear industry to reinvent itself and move away from the mass production, contributing to its daunting environmental impact. "We will have to pick up the residue and reinvent everything from scratch once the virus is under control. And this is where I am hopeful for: another and better system, to be put in place with more respect for human labour and conditions," said Li Edelkoort, one of the world's most influential trend forecasters, advising fashion companies and brands around the world in an interview for Dezeen. According to the trend forecaster, the coronavirus epidemic also caused a "quarantine of consumption" which could change profoundly the way people think of fashion. How we got here? The global health crisis caused by COVID 19 triggered an economic recession for the fashion sector, but also raised questions about overproduction and excessive consumerism driving the fast fashion industry. With retail shops closed and supply chains disrupted, warehouses started filling up with unsold overstock, exposing the unsustainability of fast fashion business model. Fearing the economic fallout, people started prioritising purchases and demand for fashion products dropped. Studies show that 65 % of consumers in Europe and the US decreased their spending on apparel and footwear. The result – products manufactured before the outbreak are filling the shelves of warehouses, for which even online shopping is not a remedy. Designed to create fast profit by producing, using and disposing of a product, the fast fashion has been evading any environmental responsibility for a long time. Now, combined with the unravelling health crisis and an economic recession, the fast fashion model, becomes a recipe for disaster with social and environmental implications. With high street brands pumping out as many as 10-15 collections per year, questions about the overstock are arising. According to The State of Fashion 2020 Coronavirus Update high-street fashion brands will try to sell the old collections at discounts to compensate for lost profit and lure consumers back in shops. This could harm small retailers and manufacturers, who don't have the same competitive advantage as the multinationals and don't manufacture products in advance. The report warns of the possibility that fast fashion brands could resort to old tricks such as sending clothes to incarceration. However, this could be a risky move triggering a backlash. Given the complexity of the situation, many experts are trying to promote more sustainable alternatives. In an interview for Euronews, the head of British Fashion Council (BFC) Caroline Rush said that upcycling the excess stock of garments could reduce to their environmental impact and prevent waste. "My optimism is, as we go through this, that we really think about the inventory challenge that we're facing for this season, and use that as a unique opportunity to really think down the line: what will happen to that stock, where will it go?" said Caroline Rush. According to her, fashion designers should be compelled to consider recycling their excess stock of garments, "so that the product we have is re-used, shredded, goes back into new yarns and created for the future". However, when it comes to recycling in fashion, statistics are grim - only less than 1% of all textiles worldwide are recycled into new textiles. A Catalyst for Change Global crises are known to trigger an unexpected change in consumers behaviour. After the 2008 financial crisis, many people shifted to "fewer, but better" philosophy by investing in good quality timeless goods rather than buying into volumes. Now experts predict a further rise in popularity of slow fashion, a shift led by consumers trying to be more responsible in their purchases. This could also mean a surge in the repair services and second-hand shops as a means to prolong the lifespan of clothes. These two aspects of both slow fashion and fur also offer more affordable opportunities for consumers. "People are keener than ever before to celebrate longevity and imperfection in clothes, particularly now that we are so aware of the impact our throw-away culture is having on the planet," said Suzie de Rohan Willner from the British slow fashion label Toast for Vogue. Isolation gave time to consumers to slow down and rethink their entire approach towards fashion, consumerism and sustainability. "Climate change is the next great challenge we need to address together, and this pandemic is forcing us to acknowledge that economic, environmental and human health are all deeply interconnected, and meaningful solutions will only be possible if integration, collaboration and transparency are at the forefront of a new industry paradigm," said SAC Executive Director Amina Razvi. Economists estimate that despite the contraction of 27 to 30 %, the fashion would also be among the first one to recover. But a crisis is always a catalyst for change. Many hope that now, facing consumers demand for a change, the global apparel and footwear industry would finally do what it was promising for a long time – slow down and take responsibility.

Society

Mink Farms Do Not Contribute to the Spread of COVID-19


Jun 08 2020 - In the wake of the global Covid-19 pandemic, mink farming has achieved special attention following the outbreak of COVID-19 on three mink farms in The Netherlands in late April. Several other animals including cats, dogs, tigers, monkeys, bats, hamsters and ferrets, have proved susceptible to SARS CoV-2. The outbreak on mink farms in The Netherlands, however, also indicated the first case of animal-to-human transmission of the virus. Naturally, this gives rise to speculations about mink farming’s potential risk to public health, sometimes fueled by animal rights organisations, who are already opposed to fur farming for ideological reasons. In an extension of this, we would like to stress that mink farms are not contributing to the spread of Covid-19 amongst the human population. Both expert- and government bodies across the world continue to maintain there is no evidence of animals playing a significant role in spreading the virus that causes Covid-19. To illustrate the point, there are almost seven million people in the world, who have been infected by Covid-19 via human-to-human transmission, at the time of writing. By comparison, there are two cases of mink-to-human transmission (none of these is actually confirmed with 100% certainty). No more cases have occurred following the introduction of protective gear on infected farms in The Netherlands. As the virus is found to spread via droplets, it is furthermore unlikely that virus will spread over greater distances and make up a risk to for example neighbours to mink farms. This is further confirmed in research collecting dust and air samples the outside infected Dutch mink farms. The fur sector has issued extensive biosecurity guidelines to all mink farmers across the world. Naturally, it is our objective to keep SARS CoV-2 out of the farms in the first place. We are committed to the health of animals and people, and the guidelines are subject to updates should relevant new knowledge emerge, or other developments require it. A total of 13 mink farms in The Netherlands were found to be infected by the coronavirus. In all cases, the source of transmission is believed to be farm employees. On 3 June 2020, the Dutch Ministry of Health decided to cull the herds on these mink farms. Mink farmers have been financially compensated for their loss this year and can return to production next season. In summary: • Mink farms do not contribute to the spread of Covid-19 amongst human populations • Extensive biosecurity guidelines have been issued to mink farmers across the world • We monitor the situation closely and work together with fur associations, experts and national authorities to safeguard human and animal health

Society

New Covid-19 research results from Dutch mink farms


May 20 2020 - Based on initial research results from the ongoing investigation into Covid-19 contamination on mink farms in the Netherlands, Dutch authorities now say it may be possible that an infection from mink back to a farm employee has occurred. However, further research is needed to establish how and when people and animals associated with mink farms in the Netherlands have been infected. Based on new initial research results from the ongoing investigation into Covid-19 contamination on mink farms in the Netherlands, Dutch authorities now say it is plausible may be possible that an infection from mink back to farm employee has occurred. It is not possible to say with 100 per cent certainty how the contamination occurred. However, further research is needed to establish how and when people and animals associated with mink farms in the Netherlands could have been infected. The Dutch authorities maintain that the risk of human exposure to virus outside mink farms is negligible. Biosecurity measures have however been legally enforced on all Dutch mink farms as a consequence of the new findings, and non-essential visitors are not allowed on mink farms at present. So far the Dutch Minister of Agriculture rejects that culling of the herd is a necessary precaution. "The Dutch authorities have so far successfully taken responsibility for containing Covid-19 on the mink farms. Fur Europe has already issued biosecurity guidelines across the industry, and we will continue to react on basis of the ongoing research in the Netherlands," says Mette Lykke Nielsen, CEO of Fur Europe. Covid-19 is known to have infected a total of five farms, all in the same area of the Netherlands. As a consequence of the new findings, screening for antibodies will take place on all mink farms in the Netherlands. Farm cats are under suspicion for transmission of virus between farms, and this is a part of the ongoing research. Air and dust samples collected outside the farms have demonstrated virus is not airborne, and a 400-meter precautionary security zone around the five infected mink farms have been lifted.

Sustainable fashion

We already know fur has long life time. Here is how it gets longer


May 19 2020 - There is a technical lifetime to clothing, and then there is a social life of clothing. The technical lifetime is about the physical strength of materials, how long does it last without breaking or ‘wear out’. "A product like natural fur has the technical potential for long lifetime, so it is important to work with the social side," said Ingun Grimstad Klepp, a research professor at Consumption Research Norway, Oslo Metropolitan University. She conducts research on sustainable textile and clothing, with a particular focus on the user-phase of clothing. This area of clothing is somewhat underexposed in the sustainability debate, yet understanding how and why people wear their clothes is critically important to reduce the environmental impact of fashion. This is based on the simple observation that the more we wear the same clothes, the less we will buy new, resource-demanding clothes. The user-phase of clothes can be studied empirically as the connection between material and cultural aspects of clothing and consumption. Here you can find answers to why some garments become favourite clothes, while other garments are hardly used, if ever. Lifetime is impacted by a number of social or cultural factors, important ones being whether the clothes fit, and what use we have for the particular types of clothes in our wardrobes – active outdoor people will utilise outdoor garments more excessively. What is ‘in fashion’ is less important to active use than people may think, but reflects that active use of clothing sometimes changes over time. "Waterproof suits became more used when the design became more light and functional. A wedding dress, on the other hand, will not be worn more than once by the same user," Ingun Klepp said. Personalisation and flexibility Improving the social or cultural life of natural fur would apply mainly to the design- and manufacturing part of the fur community’s value chain. It would imply to take advantage of the already strong technical characteristics of fur and support its extended use in the future. At the design level, this can unfold as preparing for multiple users by preparing for future refurbishing and repair – think push buttons for example – while also paying attention to personalisation and garment fitting. Areas more exposed to being ‘worn out’ can be made replaceable, and good quality can be enforced by the use of good technical quality in add-ons like buttons and linings. "You can work with the adaption of fur for different occasions, for example, clothes that work for both festive and less festive occasions, as something that protects against the cold, but still usable when the weather is mild. Overall, you can say it is about flexibility," Ingun Klepp said. At a commercial level, it might unfold as new business models targeting the sharing economy. Innovation could also arise from changing the original product: "It is a very interesting feature of fur that products can be reused and turned into something else," Ingun Klepp said. In Norway however, this is not happening a lot. Many furs are stocked in Norwegian cellars and ceilings and are simply not being put to use. "There are many people who don’t dare use their inherited furs – or buy second-hand fur. I believe this is wrong. Everything that has already been produced ought to be used with good consciousness," Ingun Klepp said. Fur farming will be banned in Norway from 2024, following a decade-long political debate that has helped shape the stigmatisation of fur that exists in Norway today. Thus it created attention when Ingun Klepp publicly promoted the use of second-hand furs in Norway for environmental reasons, a position quickly disputed by animal lobbyists fearing increased use of second-hand furs will add to the legitimation of ‘new’ fur. "Those who disagree with my talk about symbolic value, but for me, it is a matter of good utilisation of resources," Ingun Klepp said. Whether this little part of the sustainability debate in Norway will lead to more Norwegians wearing second-hand fur has yet to be proved, but Ingun Klepp says the reactions suggest many people principally agree. Clothing lifetime becomes important This resonates well with Ingun Klepp’s expectations that a ‘new way of consuming’ is underway to its breakthrough: "Today, people take mass consumption for granted, and consumers have gotten used to it, and consume accordingly because they have gotten used to being able to buy ‘new’ all the time. But it was not always like this, mass consumption was a revolution when it happened, but consumer behaviour has matured beyond mass consumption, there is an element of ‘been there, done that’ around today. The interest for re-use, knitting and home production is growing," Ingun Klepp said. But one thing is talking about fashion’s transition towards sustainability. Another is what actually happens. This part is largely still in front of us, but change may happen fast: "We don’t see rapid changes in consumer development. On the other hand, if we look at the debate it is evident it has changed a lot. There are many things which point in the direction of fast-paced changes. It has to do with both youth and politics," Ingun Klepp said, with reference to the climate-conscious youth movement, and the undeniable emergence of green reform legislation across the world, before stressing her point with a hands-on example: "The debate that follows plastic waste in the oceans is a part of a lifetime discussion. The whole discussion over plastic is about user-phase and lifetime, and it has led to certain single-use plastic products being banned. It is clear that we are now discussing these things, and therefore lifetime becomes important."

Animal Welfare

Animal Welfare Expert: Welfare Cannot Be Assessed Through Checking Walls


May 15 2020 - Resource and management indicators could be used to identify risk factors, but welfare cannot be assessed through checking walls or floors, says Antoni Dalmau, an animal welfare researcher from Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology (IRTA) in Spain. He spent the last 15 years studying the complexity of one of the long-standing issues in farming – how to ensure a quality life for farmed animals. “Animal welfare is a condition of the individual animal, and animal welfare science is more and more about the assessment of the animal’s own experience. Only animal-based indicators can give you an idea about that.’’ The physical and emotional health of an animal as well as its behaviour, known as animal welfare, is at the centre of a long-lasting discussion between policymakers, scientists, and farmers. In recent years, it has also become part of the broader debate about sustainability practices in farming. But before anything else, animal welfare is a question of science. In order to evaluate the wellbeing of farmed animal species, scientists rely on animal-based indicators. They examine the physical and emotional state, the behaviour and even the appearance of an animal to determine the quality of life on the farm. But the process is not straightforward. To get a detailed picture, researchers take into account the so-called resource-based and management-based indicators which measure the environment where animals are bred. According to Mr Dalmau, although they provide important additional information, they cannot be given the same weight the measures which look directly into the animal. “You cannot assess what you are not observing. You are not assessing welfare if you are not using animal-based measures. If you are observing walls, you are assessing walls.” Creating an assessment based on the housing systems, for example, could give simplified and even misleading results, which do to reflect truly animal’s state of wellbeing. According to him, many people prefer these indicators because they are easier to communicate and understand. “NGOs are used to work with resource and management-based parameters because they are easy to apply and to communicate to their funding bodies and society - I don’t allow cages; I don’t allow tail docking; I don’t allow castration; I ask for free-range. This is easy to assess and to communicate.’ Narrowing it down the assessment method jeopardises the scientific objectivity, adds Mr Dalmau. “For most of the people, this means, better. But not for the animals. For them, easier, faster and cheaper is not better. For them, what is better is that their interests and states are taken into account.” According to him, this is also the reason why it is difficult to create one single animal welfare law across Europe. EU policymakers spent the last decade looking into ways to how to create a common framework for animal welfare legislation. Currently, there are not harmonised rules across the continent, and animal welfare is regulated by EU directives while rules in member states vary. More than a decade ago, the European Commission launched the Welfare Quality project in an effort to understand how animal welfare could be quantified. The research project endorsed the animal-based indicators and prompted the creation of protocols for cattle, pigs and poultry. Later, it also laid the groundwork for industry-led, voluntary certification programmes such as WelFur and WELFAIR™ - a livestock farms and slaughterhouses certification programme in Spain covering different animals. The European Union Reference Center for the Welfare for poultry and other small farmed animals is the latest initiative to collect and compare animal welfare data, and possibly help policymakers to create common legislation. According to Mr Dalmau, many expect science to provide a clear and simple, black or white answer about animal welfare, whereas the issue is much more complicated. ‘’Welfare is not present or absent, black or white; it is continuous improvement, and for this reason a good scientific validating and a realistic plan are important.’’ Current animal welfare programmes have been time-consuming and expensive to create. They required scientific knowledge, validating the science, training assessors and carrying out the large-scale inspections. But they also proved it is possible to evaluate and quantify animal welfare through science – knowledge which one day could be useful when the time for common animal welfare law comes.

Sustainable Fur Forum

Farm to Fork Strategy: Opportunity for Animal Welfare


May 12 2020 - "It’s going to be a strong proposal," said the Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans on 22 April in the European Parliament regarding the upcoming 'Farm to Fork Strategy' (F2F), one of the cornerstones of the Green Deal, the EU’s flagship environmental policy. Twice delayed, the F2F Strategy is expected to be released in May. Although not directly involved in food production, Fur Europe looks forward to the publication of the Strategy as it should trigger evaluation and possible revision of the EU animal welfare legislation, according to a version of the draft Strategy leaked in March. Indeed, Fur Europe – which represents the European fur value chain - regards the F2F Strategy as an opportunity to develop coherent and future-proof animal welfare policies in the agri-business. The last available version of the draft leaked on 6th of March is promising "the Commission will evaluate the existing EU legislation with the view to revising it”. Since long before the arrival of the new Commission and the communication around the Green Deal and the F2F Strategy, Fur Europe has been advocating the adoption of a new EU Animal Welfare Strategy, including an animal welfare framework law covering all farmed animals (food and non-food producing animals) at all life stages, to update and replace current legislation. In the context of a future review of the EU legislation on animal welfare, Fur Europe points out that decision-making related to animal welfare should be based on peer-reviewed scientific evidence and facts from the field in order to provide legal protection for high animal welfare standards essential for sustainable animal farming systems. Priority should be given to the development of animal welfare indicators. The particularity of animal-based indicators is that they measure several aspects directly on individual animals. Since the launch of the animal welfare programme Welfur in 2009, the European fur industry has worked with animal indicators as the modern, professional way to monitor different aspects of animal welfare (housing, feeding, health, behaviour). Welfur is based on the principles of the European Commission-funded Welfare Quality® project and has been developed by independent scientists from seven European universities. European fur farms under the WelFur scheme are certified by independent assessors. Fur farms are assessed with 20 different measurements chosen for their reliability and scientific validity. The certification requires three farm assessments, while the maintenance of the WelFur certificate requires one assessment per year. Fur farmers who do not score high enough do not obtain the WelFur certificate. Without the certificate, fur farmers cannot sell their furs via international fur auction houses. So far, 21 fur farms in Europe, less than 1 per cent of assessed farms, have failed to obtain a WelFur certificate. All fur producing countries or regions have a so-called Welfur advisor available for them. These advisors are veterinarians who help fur farmers analyse the WelFur data to improve animal welfare systematically. Likewise, Welfur is part of the self-regulations recognised by the European Commission. Such a recognition implies that the system has been scrutinised for its validity and credibility and therefore qualifies for legal implementation. The EURCAW-Small Animals (or the European Union Reference Center for the Welfare for poultry and other small farmed animals) – which has started operating in 2020, will have the responsibility to introduce animal indicators. Indeed, the comparison of Welfur results from different countries could be helpful for the centre, which is competent for the welfare of fur animals, although its primary focus should be on poultry welfare until 2022. In parallel to EURCAW-Small Animals, Welfur would bring a significant contribution to the work of the EU Platform on Animal Welfare, whose role is to promote an enhanced dialogue on animal welfare issues, which are relevant at EU level among competent authorities, businesses, civil society and scientists. The representation of the fur industry in the Platform should thus be ensured, or at least ad hoc invitations should be guaranteed to interested stakeholders. The F2F Strategy will aim to develop a baseline and indicators on key animal welfare provisions, and the Welfur method offers a good example of an animal welfare programme. Definitely, Welfur and the future revision of the EU animal welfare legislation triggered by the F2F Strategy will be in the coming month major topics of discussion within the Sustainable Fur Forum, the informal platform of discussion in the European Parliament that offers high-level expertise and scientific knowledge on fur related topics to MEPs.

Animal Welfare

EURCAW-Small Animals is open: WelFur to play a role


Apr 28 2020 - The EURCAW-Small Animals - or the European Union Reference Center for the Welfare for poultry and other small farmed animals - started operating in 2020. Europe’s other small farmed animals are all the fur farmed species, so the centre will have direct impact on European fur farming. EURCAW-Small Animals’ main objective is to provide support to the European Commission and Member States in the official implementation and control of animal welfare regulations. Introducing animal indicators are amongst the responsibilities of the centre, in addition to collection of comparable data on the welfare of animals across Europe for the European Commission. It goes without saying WelFur works along these lines already. Much attention will however be directed to poultry in the first two years of the centre’s existence. "The centre’s main task is to support the national welfare bodies in the Member States and the Commission with officials controls on the welfare and compliance with legal standards. I imagine comparison of WelFur results from different countries would be interesting in the context of the centre," Henrik Steen Møller, Aarhus University said. EURCAW-Small Animals is a consortium formed by the Institute of AgriFood Research (IRTA), the Agence Nationale de Sécurité Sanitaire de l’Alimentation-ANSES (France), the Aarhus Universitet-Institut for Husdyrvidenskab (Denmark), and the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell’Emilia Romagna (Italy).

Social

Fur Europe issues guidelines as mink test positive for COVID-19


Apr 26 2020 - Three mink on a Dutch mink farm have tested positive for COVID-19, and a second Dutch farm is assumed to be infected with COVID-19 as well. Dutch authorities said COVID-19 most likely have been transmitted from farm employees to animals. One employee has been tested positive, while others have shown symptoms of COVID-19. 'Dutch authorities also stressed that transmission risk from animals to humans is considered negligible. 'Human to human' remains the driving for the spread of COVID-19. The Dutch authorities are now taking blood samples from animals on the farms in question in order to test for anti-bodies and measure the spread of the virus within the farms in question. The information gathered can also be important for human epidemiological knowledge. Fur Europe has immediately issued advice and guidelines to members in all mink producing countries. Update: Following the first findings, mink on four farms, all in the same area, have tested positive for COVID-19. The number of diseased animals remain very low: "Only a few mink showed symptoms of the disease on the farms. The mink are kept in separate pens, which means that there is little to no contact between the animals. It appears to be an acute outbreak, where the farms quickly overcome the peak of the disease. The chance that mink will function as a reservoir of the virus appears to be small," Dutch experts from Waagenen University explain in a Q&A.

Business

Fur pelt prices are about to go up again


Apr 23 2020 - Following a price bubble in the period 2010-2013, fur pelt prices have been dropping significantly with a subsequent decrease in world production. The same market development has been observed before and history suggests pelt prices are about to go up again soon, according to Senior Advisor at University of Copenhagen's Department of Food and Resource Economics, Henning Otte Hansen. He has earlier written a book about the Danish mink production and the underlying economic structures of the global fur trade. Now he has examined price- and production statistics for natural fur pelts from 1950 to 2019. "The price increases are about to come. It’s only a matter of the time perspective,” he said, explaining mink pelts are price elastic products, a characteristic achieved because by a market without the market regulations are known from other agricultural products, where prices do not vary much over time. The price-setting on the market for natural fur pelts is truly expressing supply and demand, although it takes a few years for the supply to adjust to demand when prices first begin to drop. “You can tell from the statistics that price and supply are closely associated. When the supply - the global production of pelts - have been decreasing for a while, the prices begin to go up. If prices go up the supply goes up as well. When the supply again exceeds the demand, the pelt prices drop, and rather quickly and dramatically too.” This pattern happened from around 2000 when prices were at the bottom, and towards 2013, when prices again reached a peak. “When the price was at the top in 1987, it took about 8 years before it began to increase dramatically again. If the same pattern repeats this time, prices will begin to increase again in 2021 latest,” he said. The effects of the COVID-19 may, however, impact the curve. “If the corona-crisis develops into economic crisis and recession the demand for fur will drop. As the demand for fur products is relatively dependent on income, a poor economy can impact the demand considerably,” Henning Otte Hansen said, but pointed out the negative fluctuation in pelt price that followed the global financial crisis in 2009, was short and the upward price curve for that period continued shortly after. Another possibility is that economic effects from the corona-crisis extend the period before prices go up again. The global mink production has now dropped to about 45 million pelts, down from all-time high 87 million in 2014. This is approximately the same as world production in 2007.

Animal Welfare

21 Fur Farms Failed to Obtain WelFur Certificate


Apr 08 2020 - Out of 2,787 European mink and fox farms which so far have had the initial three WelFur assessments, 21 farms - corresponding to 0.8 per cent - have failed to obtain a WelFur certificate. Without a WelFur certificate, the farm owners are prevented from selling their pelts at the international fur auction houses. The auctions are the regular marketplace for natural fur pelts, and without access to the market, these farmers are effectively put out of business. Other 57 farms, equaling 2 per cent, failed to obtain a certificate after three assessments. However, by later on passing a so-called 'correction assessment' before which critical issues were brought to order, all of these achieved their certification. "I regret we were not able to get everybody on board. At least it shows the certification scheme works. It’s not our ambition to let go of European fur farmers; it is rather our ambition to educate and guide everybody towards farm practices which supports good animal welfare. We welcome fur farmers back into WelFur if they can demonstrate they have improved their farm or management practices sufficiently," John Papsø, chairman of Fur Europe said. All countries or regions have a so-called WelFur advisor around; typically these are veterinarians working with the national fur breeders’ association. This person’s job is to help fur farmers analyse the WelFur data to improve animal welfare systematically. The WelFur advisor is particularly important to fur farmers who failed the original WelFur assessment because they can help change farmers to pass their correction assessment. Another 152 farms currently have no certification, but most of these are awaiting the third and final assessment before a certificate can be issued.

Sustainable Fur Forum

“We must make sure the fur sector stays viable and can weather the crisis”


Apr 08 2020 - Fur Europe is glad to count on the support of MEP Juozas Olekas, who has kindly accepted to Chair the Sustainable Fur Forum (SFF). Mr Olekas became Member of the European Parliament in July 2019. Originally from Lithuania, he has a long-standing experience as former Defence and Health Minister. A surgeon by training, he sits in the European Parliament in the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, and he has taken upon himself to promote the interests of the EU farming sector. We asked him some questions about his new engagement as SFF Chair: Mr Olekas, why did you decide to become involved with the SFF? For many years, the fur industry has been surrounded by many unanswered questions or stereotypes that are unrealistic. Personally, I feel it is my duty not only to ensure that these questions are answered to our citizens but also to replace stereotypes with reality-based facts. Moreover, one of the main things that attracted me to the SFF was the promotion of the WelFur certification – which is a modern animal welfare standard, based on concrete scientific evidence and assessed by independent parties. A sector so dedicated to this kind of practice deserves our support. In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges the fur industry will face in the next five years? Currently, with the coronavirus sweeping across the world, there is a need to focus on the effects this major health crisis will have on the economy. The fur sector will also, unfortunately, feel the consequences. In essence, natural fur is a very specific product, and the demand for it can drop if the crisis persists and people’s income suffers a considerable decrease. The sector should continue to innovate and offer quality products, while also working on showcasing the environmentally-friendly and sustainable aspect of fur farming. Therefore, we must take all possible measures to ensure that the fur industry can continue to guarantee animal welfare and also high-quality products, which are two inseparable aspects. In light of the current health and economic crisis caused by the spreading of the coronavirus, what do you think the EU should do to support the European fur sector, considering that many SMEs like farms and manufacturers will be severely hit by the countermeasures adopted across Europe? The fur sector should be supported just as all the other sectors of the economy will be. It makes up a significant portion of the economy – exports of furs from the EU makeup almost three billion euro – and is an important employer in the rural areas, where jobs, in general, are not too easy to find. A hundred thousand people all over the UE work in the sector – people who usually live in areas where employment is scarce. If the sector is left to collapse, all those jobs will be lost, and a significant number of people will have few other opportunities for gainful employment. Therefore, we must make sure the sector stays viable and robust and can weather the crisis with as little loss as possible. We must bear in mind that the fur industry is mainly based on family businesses, which we Socialists and Democrats aim to secure throughout Europe. It is indisputable that it is these family businesses based on tradition, togetherness and solidarity that should be our priority, in order to protect our citizens and their interests during this crisis. When, if not now, can we provide them with the kind of essential support they currently need so much? The first event of the Forum will be focused on the new Circular Economy Action Plan recently launched by the European Commission. What role do you think the fur industry can play in making the EU economy more sustainable and circular? The fur industry can be a very important player in the circular economy – mainly because the sector itself, by its specifics, is very sustainable and an example of circularity. Fur farms use the waste from other agri-food sectors as a feed for the animals, thus using up the waste from food production that would otherwise remain out of the circle of production. The waste of fur farms is also used in other sectors of agriculture – as fertiliser or biofuel. And the product of those same farms – the fur – is inherently long-lasting and biodegradable, as opposed to most synthetic fabrics. We must recognise the benefits provided by the fur sector and make sure its role as an example of a circular economy is noted.

Society

Fur Accessories Designer is Sewing Masks to Fight Pandemic


Apr 07 2020 - Leaving aside the furriers’ knife and the leather tools for a while, the Greek designer Alexandros Kotoulas, who is behind the brand Alexquisite, has started sewing face masks to help protect people against COVID-19. The studio in Athens, usually full of fur scraps and leather pieces, has now been transformed into a small factory with patterns, sewing machines and textiles laying around. The coronavirus outbreak halted most of his project and left Alex, like many of us, stuck at home under lockdown. But instead of working on his next collections, the former Fur Summer school participant who trained at Louis Vuitton decided to help those who could be affected by the crisis. “There was no availability of protective masks, and I thought I could use my sewing skills and invest my energy producing a small amount of them for people that would need them most,’’ says Alex. Like most counties in the world, Greece is suffering the severe consequences of the pandemic with a shortage of protective equipment. The crisis prompted many creatives people like Alex to help however they can. Despite that the sewing process is straightforward for most people with basic skills, Alex came across another problem making his task more difficult. With commercial shops closed down, there is also a shortage of textile materials, prompting him to sticks to the main the basic principle of sustainability – use every single piece of the material and waste nothing. ‘’I am trying to find the smartest way to use my existing fabrics. I used all the cotton available in the workshop to produce the prototypes, and then I ended up using two bed sheets for the lack of other textiles!’’ Even if the masks he makes are not quite up to the standard of the medical ones, they offer adequate protection to those who wear them as long as they are made of cotton and not synthetic textiles which can’t be sterilised properly. Like many small businesses in the midst of the international crisis, Alex hopes that the fashion industry will recover and people will still want a small accessory and a bit of colour in their life. While this happens, he calls all designers and furriers to help with the effort saying all it takes is a sewing machine, textiles and desire to help.

Sustainability

Traceability: Next Big Trend in Fashion (and Politics)


Mar 11 2020 - As EU officials prepare ambitious measures aiming to make supply chains more transparent, the fur sector launches new global traceability scheme in 2020. The International Fur Federation's (IFF) new certification and traceability programme FURMARK will introduce a new chemical standard to keep track of health and safety requirements. It will also monitor environmental standards during dressing and dyeing and in future will oversee human rights across the entire fur supply chain. FURMARK comes as the EU is trying to boost its efforts and do more about transparency. Instead of merely tracing processes through the supply chains, new legislative proposals plan to look at how a product is being made from a sustainable perspective. In the Circular Economy Action Plan, the European Commission envisages a law to bind companies’ green claims to common Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCRs) in a bid to tackle greenwashing. The action plan is proposing an electronic passport for products to contain information about emissions, expected lifespan, repairability and other sustainability information. EU policymakers also consider making due diligence mandatory for companies. With its vast market and globalised supply chains, the garment sector fell under the radar of legislators for human and workers’ rights violations and massive environmental impact of productions. But this increased scrutiny is not new for the fur sector. WelFur is an example of due diligence put in practice. A tool to identify animal welfare problems on the farm level of the fur supply chain, WelFur makes it possible to tackle issues accordingly. Based on the blockchain technology, FURMARK's traceability system would look at animal welfare, environmental concern and human rights issues through each stage of the supply chain. "We have a well-consolidated supply chain, and this allows us to provide real transparency and traceability, especially when it comes to animal welfare, fur dressing and sustainability standards," said Mark Oaten, CEO of IFF. As a result, different certification programmes and standards about fur from around the globe will follow the same standards of science, transparency and independent inspection. FURMARK certified fur could be traced back from its origin to the endpoint, enabling consumers to learn about how and where materials are sourced. The programme was developed in consultation with major brands such as the LVMH group and will kick off in 2020.

Sustainable Fur Forum

Sustainable Fur and the Circular Economy Action Plan


Mar 09 2020 - The textile and the clothing sectors are becoming central to the EU political discourse around the circular economy. This is illustrated by the European Green Deal, the new roadmap for a sustainable growth launched by the European Commission, which openly mentions the textile sector when referring to the European Commission's 'Circular Economy Action Plan'. This new plan aims to increase the circularity of the EU’s economy, preserve its natural environment and support the contribution of the EU’s industry in order to achieve a climate-neutral continent. The plan was presented on 11 March, and the fur sector is keen to contribute to its effective implementation at the coming Sustainable Fur Forum event in September. Natural fur is the ultimate example of a circular product The European Commission rightly counts the textile sector among those relying "mainly on unsustainable and sub-optimal use of resources, leading to excessive production of waste, and increasing the environmental footprint of our economy instead of bringing the needed decoupling". Yet, natural fur is a material characterised by longevity that generates little to no waste when it finally leaves the user-phase. Indeed, with proper care fur clothes last for decades, contrary to materials that intensify the environmental impacts due to their premature replacement. The longevity of natural fur stems from the material's durability as much as its ability to maintain a fresh look, and not 'wear out'. This makes natural fur an ideal material to repair, remodel and recycle. Keeping products in use for a long time is textbook circularity, but many modern products are not designed for longevity, and often most repair logistics are lacking. After decades of use, natural fur has the ability to biodegrade. As demonstrated by tests realised in 2018 by the Organic Waste Systems laboratory of Ghent (Belgium), natural fur biodegrades in landfill conditions through consumption by microorganisms of the carbon inside the fur. On the contrary, fake fur does not biodegrade as it is made of synthetic fibres, which break down into ever smaller pieces and eventually form microplastic fibres that are a serious polluter of all the world's oceans and waterways, as well as a serious threat to wildlife and human health. Upstream of the circularity of the material, farmed fur animals feed on waste products from the production of human food including chicken- and fish offal, pig blood and other protein sources. By buying these by-products, fur farms contribute to upcycling of waste generated by human food production and provide a source of revenue for thriving European bio-economy. Once the farming process is completed, fur farms supply by-products (manure, carcasses and soiled straw bedding) to other industries in order to produce second-generation biofuel, organic fertilizers or cosmetic products, thus completing the nutrient cycle. Sustainable Fur Forum: discussion about the Circular Economy Action Plan and beyond While fur owns intrinsic characteristics of sustainability (long-lasting, renewable, biodegradable) which make it one of the flagship productions of a circular economy, it is essential that the upcoming Circular Economy Action Plan enables the European fur value-chain to realize its potential to contribute to the transition towards responsible and sustainable use of the available resources. In this context, key concepts for the textile sector must be clearly defined (for example "recycling", "re-manufacturing", "reuse"), financial instruments shall be envisaged to help companies in their transition towards a more circular production, while consumers must be properly informed about the environmental impact of their choices and about the sustainable consumer behaviour. Beyond the Commission's next action plan, it is clear that the reflection around the further development of the economy in a circular way is one of utmost importance, and that this ground-breaking paradigm is likely to modify production and consumption patterns for many years to come. The role of fur in the circular economy will be at the heart of the next Sustainable Fur Forum event that is set to take place in September in the European Parliament of Brussels. More information will soon be available on the website sustainablefur.com.

Sustainability

Natural Fur: global sustainability strategy launched in London


Feb 21 2020 - In the limelight of the many festivities taking place in and around London Fashion Week, the International Fur Federation (IFF) launched its sustainability strategy in London this week. The strategy consists of the three main pillars Good for Welfare, Good for People, and Good for the Environment, and eight major initiatives including the 2020 launch of FURMARK, a global welfare certification and traceability scheme. Read the detailed strategy here. "Fur is one of the most sustainable natural materials, the epitome of 'slow fashion', and is an industry worth an estimated 30 billion dollars per year that employs hundreds of thousands across the globe. All of those involved in the sector and wider supply chain have a role to play in helping to meet and deliver these ambitious goals, and this strategy will help them to do that," Mark Oaten, CEO of IFF said. He was complemented by Mr. Ulrik Petersen, the deputy at the Danish Embassy in London, where the event took place: "We recognise that fur and the concept of sustainable fashion complement one another. Fur is a natural, sustainable material that epitomises the concept of circular, 'slow' fashion. Representing quality, individuality, and accessibility, fur is and remains popular. Fur, therefore, has a role to play as part of the solution to the problems surrounding fast fashion, and this new sustainability strategy emphasises that with clarity," he said. In a panel debate Gianluca Longo, style editor at British Vogue and Cabana, designer Ineta Joksaite and fur farmers John Papsø and Ryan Holt, shared insight on the realities of using animal fur. Figures from the IFF show that around one-third of fur garments are purchased second-hand, 16 per cent of fur is restyled and only 12 per cent thrown away. Such figures reflect the essence of a circular economy, a concept for production and consumption seeking to design out waste. The circular economy is becoming increasingly popular in politics, not least in the European Union, where several upcoming legislative frameworks target product longevity and waste reduction. The International Fur Federation is a sister organisation to Fur Europe, representing the global fur trade. Fur Europe's animal welfare assessment WelFur programme is a part of FURMARK.

Animal Welfare

Report against WelFur fails to compromise its scientific basis


Feb 13 2020 - The animal lobby coalition Fur Free Alliance fails to bring anything new to the table in a new report about WelFur. Named 'Why WelFur fails to stop the suffering of animals on fur farms’ the report seeks to discredit WelFur and tie the fur sector's housing system with inherently poor animal welfare. "It's old wine on new bottles. At the end of the day this dispute comes down to values and gut-feelings, but the scientific literature does not support the notion that animals generally don't thrive on fur farms. Actually Fur Free Alliance makes no real attempt to attack the scientific foundation of WelFur either. They know of course, WelFur is very solid science, independent, and bulletproof, so they stay on the well-known slogans," Mette Lykke Nielsen, CEO of Fur Europe said. The report was presented in the European Parliament on 21 January, at the same time as Fur Europe's 'This is Fur' event. Yet, the organisers did not invite the fur sector to engage in an open debate, and this is not doing anything good for the democratic debate, according to Mette Lykke Nielsen. "A collective animal lobby has long ago announced they want a European-wide ban on fur farming, and at the same time they don't want to engage in debate with us. I'm a democrat by heart, so I don't have a whole lot of respect for this attitude, but I understand it's a strategy. It's a way to avoid being confronted with the scientific knowledge that threatens to disturb their ideas about animal welfare," she said. Does Fur Free Alliance's report have no merits at all? "Sure. It represents values that are legitimate in a free democracy, but its conclusions are speculative. The expert who draws the conclusions has never set foot on a fur farm. It's not really serious." Download Fur Europe's answer to the FFA report (pdf). WelFur is developed by independent scientists from European universities, and works on the same principles as the European Commission's Welfare Quality programme. Furthermore, WelFur is endorsed in the EU Database for Self-regulations.  

Sustainable Fur Forum

Successful kick-off for the Sustainable Fur Forum


Jan 23 2020 - Set up at the initiative of Fur Europe, the Sustainable Fur Forum (SFF) is a new platform of discussion within the European Parliament about fur related topics. It is intended for all Members of the European Parliament who consider sustainability to be an essential component of today's production and consumption dynamics. On the side of the exhibition « This is Fur 2020 », which is displaying in the European Parliament from 21 to 23 of January the incomparable know-how and quality of fur production made in the EU, the actors of the European fur value chain have launched on Wednesday, 22nd of January, a cross-party and cross-committee Forum of discussion for all interested MEPs. The SFF will provide science-based and fact-based input on different topics of European interest which involve natural fur and highlight its potential for helping the EU to manage the different aspects of a sustainable transition: circular economy, environmental footprint, traceability, respect of the welfare of animals and protection of biodiversity. The SFF launch took place during a convivial reception hosted by MEP Juozas Olekas (S&D, Lithuania) in the European Parliament in the presence of the EU fur sector and many other prominent European policymakers. MEP Olekas, who kindly accepted to be the Chair of the SFF, declared: « In a time when the EU institutions announced ambitious plans to make the European economy more sustainable, circular and transparent, the Sustainable Fur Forum is a much needed initiative. The Forum will bridge the gap between policymakers, industry, academia and civil society to find solutions that protect both the environment and consumers and make the European fur sector more sustainable and competitive ». MEP Manolis Kefalogiannis (EPP, Greece), will be the SFF Vice-Chair. SFF events will bring together European policymakers and relevant stakeholders allowing to hold balanced and constructive debates. The first event will take place in April 2020 and will be focused on the upcoming Circular Economy Action Plan to be adopted by the European Commission.

Sustainable fashion

‘This is Fur’ Exhibition Grows in Popularity in European Parliament


Jan 23 2020 - ‘This is Fur’ is an attraction in the European Parliament, where Fur Europe’s European lobby event takes place 21-23 January. More than 100 bilateral meetings had already taken place before the final day, Thursday, but it is the many spontaneous visits to the stand in the communication area of the Altiero Spinello building that surprises Fur Europe. “The stand is somehow visually attractive because we get lots of guests, who are just curious to see what’s going on. People are really sweet, and our messages are well received. Our members have been very busy this week, but we have a lot of fun with it,” said Fur Europe CEO Mette Lykke Nielsen. Spontaneous visits to the ‘This is Fur’ stand range from MEPs to other animal industries and –sectors, and once inside the attraction is the fur garment samples, all designed for longevity but with different strategies. “Fur samples were also popular on previous ‘This is Fur’ events. Natural fur does that to people. You just have to touch the material when you see it. This time we also brought a virtual reality experience from fur farms. This is popular too, especially the younger audience is keen to put on the virtual reality goggles.” The stand also offers two furriers working both on the remodelling of second-hand garments, and answering questions about the craft, material, repairment, personalisation and care. Fur Europe’s purpose with bringing its members to Brussels to meet their national MEPs and other stakeholders is to inform about the circular qualities of natural fur and promote the sustainability policies of the industry. According to Chairman of Fur Europe, John Papsø, this goal has already been achieved: “Our environmental attributes and advanced approach to animal welfare is an eye-opener to most people, so I think it is safe to say we will come back. Fur always comes back,” he says. The lobby event closes down Thursday 23 January at 4 p.m.

Animal Welfare

Open Position: WelFur Assistant


Jan 22 2020 - Fur Europe is currently hiring a full-time intern for a duration of either 6 or 12 months starting from 2nd March. The successful candidate will join an informal yet highly professional and collaborative working environment and a dedicated multi-national team and will assist the  Head of WelFur and will work in the field of animal welfare. ABOUT THE POSITION Support in the implementation and management of the WelFur program on the European fox, mink and finnraccoon farms Report to: Head of WelFur Assisting on the day-to-day communication to fur farmers and other stakeholders about the WelFur program Collecting and updating data on the WelFur implementation Developing material for the internal and external website of Fur Europe Assisting the Fur Europe engagement in the IFASA congress and work around this network Managing and arranging WelFur advisor seminars and updates Attending relevant events or conferences and report to Fur Europe members ABOUT THE CANDIDATE Education and experience Bachelor or Master’s degree in agricultural science or similar; Proven knowledge about animal husbandry; Fluency in English is essential; fluency in other EU languages is welcome; Skills Quick learner, ability to grasp complex concepts rapidly; Strong research and analysis skills; Team-player, proactive and inquisitive mindset; Fully familiar with Microsoft software such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint.   ABOUT THE SELECTION PROCESS You can send your CV and cover letter to info@fureurope.eu until Sunday, 9th February at midnight. Candidates will be informed by e-mail if they are accepted to the interview phase shortly after. Interviews are expected to take place in February 2020. Ideally, the contract will start on Monday, 2nd March, for the total duration of 6 or 12 months. The contract will be a convention d’immersion professionelle.

Animal Welfare

Sweden rejects ban on fur farming with reference to scientific facts


Jan 15 2020 - There is no scientific foundation for claiming poor animal welfare in the Swedish mink production, and Minister for Rural Affairs Jennie Nilsson has consequently rejected a ban on fur farming in Sweden. In a debate in the Swedish parliament today the Minister referred to the scientific recommendations of the Swedish Board of Agriculture, published in January 2018. This work was commissioned with the exact purpose of scrutinising the mink production for animal welfare issues and point to new legislation if needed. The Swedish Board of Agriculture did not find a reason to suggest new legislation on the basis of a scientific review of the current literature. Instead, the Board of Agriculture pointed out the improved animal welfare performance in the Swedish mink production since 2012, which has been fuelled by the Swedish fur farmers' own, voluntary health scheme. The industry initiative was also highlighted by the Minister, who stressed the scientific basis of the 2018 recommendations, as well as the importance of legislation based on scientific knowledge: "The Board of Agriculture relied on the Scientific Committee. As a responsible minister, this is an incredibly important tool in such [animal welfare] contexts. I think it is important to make decisions, that to the extent possible is based on scientific facts," she said. Other relevant welfare issues were likewise scrutinised by the Swedish experts. The 2018 study established that the farmed mink is domesticated and cannot be compared to its wild counterpart. Likewise, the study established that swimming water is not an essential need for farmed mink, and found the appearance of stereotypical behaviour is at a very low level, which furthermore cannot be associated with herds, but only individuals. It was further noted that more research is desirable, and the option to utilise the European-wide WelFur programme, that is based on the principles of the European Commission's Welfare Quality programme, for future welfare improvements in the Swedish fur production.

Sustainable fashion

Sustainable Fashion Debate During ‘This is Fur’ Sold Out


Jan 10 2020 - The opening remarks will be delivered by Fur Europe's CEO Mette Lykke Nielsen, when Brussels media Politico hosts a panel debate on sustainability in the fashion industry during the 'This is Fur' event 22 January. Politico's Spotlight “Achieving Sustainability in the Fashion Industry: what’s the way forward?” will take place inside the European Parliament: "Clothes contribute more to climate change than international flights and shipping combined, and the problem is getting worse. Falling prices and the rise of fast fashion have led to growing demand and a tendency to see clothing as disposable. As Europeans’ wardrobes are getting bigger, so is the sector’s environmental footprint," the event description reads. Among the subjects of the panel, the debate will look at potential legislative plans to reduce the fashion industry's environmental impact, current linear business models, how to get consumers to buy less, but better clothing, longevity and so on. Fur Europe is a partner of the event because of the subject's alignment with both values and policies in the fur sector: "Well, natural fur is the very symbol of slow fashion, and today's clear-cut consensus is that longer active clothing life is the most effective way to improve sustainability in fashion. No garment compares to natural fur when it comes to longevity, and it is a huge environmental advantage when you can distribute a product's footprint over a long time. So Politico's debate hits a tune with us in the fur community. We always involve ourselves in the societal debates we have stakes in," Mette Lykke Nielsen said. The interest for the fashion debate has been very big, and there are no more seats available.

Animal Welfare

The European Fashion Industry buys WelFur Certified pelts


Jan 08 2020 - As the first WelFur certified skins go on sale at international fur auction house Saga Furs in December 2019, brokers buying on behalf of European fashion brands are the most active buyers in the auction room. Blue Frost Fox pelts are effectively the first sourced from WelFur certified European fur farms. Fur broker Alex Tarantola was amongst the 200 international buyers in the audition room who arrived in Helsinki to buy skins. He is noticing a shift in the attitude of the fashion brands he works with when it comes to certified natural fur. "It’s not only increased interest in getting certified pelts. For brands now, certification is a must," says Alex while carefully observing the auctioneers at the podium. ''They need to be covered by a credible certification. And it’s not a matter whether it’s worth more or less. It is a matter of whether they are in or out." Tia Matthews, the Fashion Business Director at Saga Furs, says this is not a surprise. Regardless of whether it is fur or cotton, traceability is still one of the biggest challenges across the complex fashion supply chains. "That’s why brands want to use WelFur skins sourced from European certified farms. It allows them to show their commitment to sustainability and demonstrate that the materials they use could be traced back to sustainable productions." Also on the Asian market, many see the WelFur certification as a means to enhance competitiveness and demonstrate quality, according to Samantha Vesala, Saga Furs’ Asia Business Director. "There is a noticeable difference in the quality of the material depending on where they originate from. Asian brands require certification proof because they want to be able to say that the lots come from Europe." As buyers and brokers follow the prices on the screen and check order papers, farmers sit at the back of the auction room observing. Jari Isosari is amongst them. A third-generation farmer living in Ostrobothnia, a region in Finland living mainly out of fur farming, he says that WelFur helps him to see how to improve his farming practices. "We can show to the people that we have a responsibility toward the animals, and we care about them in the same way as any farmer would."

Animal Welfare

World premiere of certified natural fur pelts


Dec 19 2019 - Fox pelts certified in accordance with the European WelFur standard will be on offer for the first time during the international fur auction at Saga Furs in Helsinki, Finland, 19-20 December 2019. WelFur is the biggest and most comprehensive animal welfare programme ever to be implemented across an entire continent, which count 2,918 European mink and fox farms currently housing 35 million animals. "Consumers today want to know how the products they buy have come about. Animal welfare is an important societal value, it means the world to a lot of people, and we are incredibly proud of European fur farmers setting a new standard for on-farm animal welfare assessment across an entire industry. This has not been done anywhere before. Still, product transparency is clearly the direction society moves towards, and we are proud to be livestock first movers," said Mette Lykke Nielsen, CEO of Fur Europe, a Brussels-based umbrella organisation for the entire European fur industry. WelFur is developed by independent scientists from seven European universities and sets out to establish a reliable, fact-based picture of the level of animal welfare on each fur farm. The farm assessments, as well as the issuing of WelFur certificates, are carried out by independent third-party Baltic Control. The WelFur programme is based solely on the principles and methodology of the European Commission’s Welfare Quality project and has been endorsed in the European Commission’s database for self-regulations. It is the first and only animal welfare programme to be obtained in the database for self-regulations that requires testing against principles of openness, reliability, good faith, monitoring, continuous improvement and inclusiveness. "The independence of the programme has been critical to us from the beginning because as a producer, you cannot reliably assess yourself. I think independent assessments are particularly important when it concerns animals since all animal debates quickly become very heated and emotional," Mette Lykke Nielsen said. The auction sales of WelFur certified fur pelts kicks off in the morning of 19 December. Due to the lengthy manufacturing process of handmade fur products, natural fur products carrying the WelFur certification will only become widely available to consumers from September 2020 onwards.   Facts about WelFur WelFur is based on the principles of the European Welfare Quality project and developed by independent scientists from seven European universities*. External reviewers have secured the conservation of the scientific quality and alignment with the original Welfare Quality project.  All farm assessments are undertaken by independent third-party Baltic Control . Baltic Control is also the sole issuer of WelFur certificates. Animal-based measurements are central in WelFur. These measurements are an indirect way to ask the animals themselves about their well-being. They are widely endorsed by animal welfare experts, albeit they are not yet commonly used in animal welfare assessments. 2,918 fox and mink farms across 22 European countries have been assessed in the period 2017-2019, which concludes the implementation phase. Two percent of the fur farms did not achieve a WelFur certificate. There is an increasing interest of WelFur outside Europe, and the programme is being expanded to individual fur farms outside Europe as well. A WelFur protocol for finnraccoon has been developed following the protocols for mink and fox. The finnraccoon protocol is currently being tested. The first sales of WelFur certified mink will take place at Kopenhagen Fur, Denmark, in February 2020. * University of Eastern Finland, MTT Agrifood Research (Finland), Aarhus University (Denmark), Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, University of Utrecht (The Netherlands), French National Institute of Agronomic Research  

Sustainability

European fur community is ready for Green Deal


Dec 18 2019 - The European Commission unveiled the European Green Deal on December 11, outlining the EU’s vision for a climate-neutral continent in 2050 and a roadmap of concrete actions to achieve such goal. Fur Europe welcomes this initiative and highlights several areas of interests where the European fur sector can provide a meaningful contribution. As part of the Green Deal, the EU will propose a new Circular Economy action plan addressing the textile sector. Fur Europe will share best practices of the fur sector and work with the EU institutions in order to push the European fashion industry and consumers towards sustainable production and consumption patterns based on natural materials, reuse and remanufacturing of products, and waste reduction. As part of this initiative, Fur Europe also hopes that the Product Environmental Footprint initiative of the European Commission will be fully embedded in the Green Deal in order to deliver a standard methodology to assess the sustainability of products. Secondly, the Green Deal envisages a new EU biodiversity strategy. Fur Europe has so far successfully worked with the EU institutions and member states to reconcile industry practices with the sector’s aim to protect the environment and biodiversity in Europe. Given the new strategy, Fur Europe will continue to contribute in particular to the pursuit of Target 5 of the EU Biodiversity Strategy, addressing the control and eradication of invasive alien species. The third area of interest for the fur sector will be the so-called ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy, which aims to deliver sustainable food for all. The strategy will indirectly affect fur farming practices from animal welfare and environmental points of view. Therefore Fur Europe will act in concert with other livestock producers to ensure that any measures affecting farming are based on a rigorous scientific basis. Fur Europe will also ensure the protection and promotion of the work so far done on animal welfare by the European fur industry. In this view, Fur Europe looks forward to co-operating with the newly established EU Reference Centre on the welfare of poultry, rabbits and fur animals. Finally, the Green Deal includes a ‘Chemical Strategy for Sustainability’ to reduce the use of hazardous chemicals and their spread in the environment. Also, in this case, Fur Europe will work to achieve the highest level of consumer protection and product safety while maintaining a high level of competitiveness in the European fur industry, in particular concerning the restriction of certain chemical substances, the use of safe alternatives and the market surveillance.

Sustainability

‘This is Fur’ kicks off 21-23 January


Dec 15 2019 - 21-23 January 2020, leaders from the European fur community are gathered in Brussels to meet their MEPs and other political stakeholders in the Brussels bubble. It is the third time the European fur sector promotes itself in the capital of Europe, following events in both 2014 and 2015. This event aimed at providing ‘first hand’ factual and reliable information about the fur industry to the EU institution representatives and an engagement and open dialogue platform for all relevant stakeholders. "There are many myths and prejudices about fur, and it is important for us to tell lawmakers about natural fur's circular qualities, and demonstrate how the European fur sector can help EU to reach its goals of climate neutrality. We have very strong policies to present including Europe's most comprehensive, science-based animal welfare programme. We are quite excited," Mette Lykke Nielsen, CEO of Fur Europe said. Besides more than 100 bilateral meetings the event in January also offers debates and presentations on animal welfare, environment and fashion. The latter with the sustainability angle, which has defined the public debate over fashion in 2019. As the most effective way to improve sustainability in fashion is longer active life for clothing, natural fur has role model qualities and this will be demonstrated live at the stand in the communications area on the third floor of the European Parliament. During the event, Fur Europe is also partner on a Politico Event titled "Achieving sustainability in the fashion industry: what's the way forward?" DOWNLOAD THE PROGRAMME (PDF)