Fur animal welfare: New WelFur protocol is underway
May 23 2019 - While the science-based animal welfare programme WelFur currently is being implemented on 3.200 mink and fox farms across Europe, the development of science-based measurements for a much less known fur animal are quietly underway. Finnraccoon, also known as raccoon dog, is farmed commercially in Finland, and the production counted 160.000 pelts in 2018. Right now a pilot phase is taking place in which animal welfare researchers are testing the validity of measurements, while at the same time the calculation model is being developed. The new protocol - that effectively work as a manual for the independent third-party assessors - will be handed over to an external review committee by the end of the year. The committee will review the protocol for its scientific validity and alignment with the methodology and principles of the European Commission’s Welfare Quality protocols. “All animals matter, also when the production is quite small. The WelFur protocols developed for mink and fox are already a success before consumers can buy products from certified farms. As the only animal welfare programme in the world, WelFur has been obtained in the European Commission’s self-regulation database, and Fur Europe’s board did not hesitate in deciding to move on with a finnraccoon protocol,” CEO of Fur Europe, Mette Lykke Nielsen, says. Recently, it was also revealed that fur farmed species will be a part of the European Commission’s next reference centre for animal welfare together with poultry and rabbits. The reference centres gather species-specific animal welfare expertise across Europe, and Mette Lykke Nielsen is pleased with the focus on scientific knowledge: “We think independent, scientific knowledge should underpin decisions on animal welfare. The WelFur protocols are dynamic, scientific tools, and the protocols and score system will change as new research and better welfare measurements emerge. WelFur is based on animal indicators, and while everybody know animal indicators are ‘state of the art’ in animal welfare assessment, the fur sector is the the first industry to implement animal indicators across an entire continent,” Mette Lykke Nielsen says.
European Commission to establish centre for fur animal welfare
Apr 16 2019 - Despite massive protests from the animal lobby the European Commission have confirmed the establishing of a new EU supported animal welfare centre focusing on fur animals. International animal lobby NGO Four Paws has called the Commission’s plan “an unprecedented scandal”, but in spite of the massive protests, the Commission has now launched the call for European universities, who in cooperation will form the so-called EU Reference Centre for Animal Welfare. The centre will start in January 2020, and its focus is fur farmed species in addition to poultry and rabbits. “It’s beyond my understanding how animal welfare NGOs can be against more animal welfare research, but I applaud the Commission for siding with science, not populistic opinion, in this matter,” Mette Lykke Nielsen, CEO of Fur Europe said. In January, the European Commission added the fur sector’s animal welfare programme WelFur to the European Commission’s Self-Regulation Database. It is the first time ever an animal welfare programme has been added to this database, and it means the animal welfare programme has been scrutinised by the European Commission’s experts and found credible and robust enough for legislation purposes. The Brussels-based umbrella organisation Eurogroup for Animals who organises the protests against Commissioner Andriukaitis, encourages European Parliament election candidates to “oppose initiatives which provide EU endorsement to the fur industry”, but the animal lobby’s current focus on fur does not worry Mette Lykke Nielsen: “It is exactly because of many years’ pressure from the surrounding society the European fur sector is way ahead on animal welfare. We welcome the decision of the European Commission to include fur animals in the next EU hub for animal welfare expertise in Europe. It stresses that EU holds fur farming in high regard because we are working professionally with animal welfare, and we are demonstrating this with the ongoing implementation of our science-based animal welfare programme WelFur. The animal lobby has worked intensively to prevent fur from being included in the reference centre. It appears to me that by doing this they reveal their intentions are guided by ideology rather than a genuine wish to improve animal welfare,” Mette Lykke Nielsen says. The purpose of the EU reference centres for animal welfare is to gather existing scientific knowledge and contribute to the dissemination of good practices on animal welfare in the EU. The scientific and technical expertise of the centres are to be used to carrying out studies and developing methods for animal welfare assessment and –improvement.
WelFur gets stamp of approval by the European Commission
Jan 16 2019 - The European fur sector’s animal welfare programme WelFur has been endorsed by the European Commission as a Self-Regulation and Co-Regulation Initiative. It is the first animal welfare programme ever to be promoted in the Commission’s databaseof so-called ‘soft law’ initiatives. “The European Commission does not promote whitewashing, so it is a recognition of the credibility of WelFur and it shows the fur industry works responsibly with animal welfare and society,” Mette Lykke Nielsen, CEO of Fur Europe, says. Fur Europe is the umbrella organisation for the whole value chain of the European fur sector. Amongst other things, the Commission’s description of WelFur reads: “WelFur is a science-based, practical and reliable on-farm assessment systems as an instrument to monitor and improve welfare and demonstrate, in a transparent way, good animal welfare practices.” All programmes promoted under the Self-Regulation and Co-Regulation Initiative must go through an evaluation process in which the programmes are assessed against a range of principles, including stakeholder participation, transparency, reliability, feasibility and legal compliance. Consequently, programmes promoted under the Self-Regulation and Co-Regulation Initiative are quite often the backdrop for binding legislation, and this is the very purpose for Fur Europe. “Fur Europe supports the idea of taking binding animal welfare legislation to the next level, whether this is at national or EU levels. WelFur assesses the animals rather than the housing system. It is dynamic and future-proof, and it comes with serious sanctions towards non-complying farmers. If someone looks at fur animal legislation, there is real no reason to look elsewhere, because WelFur is exactly what animal experts recommend,” Mette Lykke Nielsen says. WelFur is developed by independent scientists at seven European universities, and is being implemented on 3.500 European mink and fox farms in the period 2017-2020.
High participation in the WelFur programme
Dec 01 2018 - The European fur sector's ground-breaking animal welfare programme WelFur is popular amongst European mink and fox farmers. Despite participation being voluntary, 96% of them have signed up to take part in the programme. "Our members understand the need for a transparent animal welfare debate that is based on scientific knowledge rather than populist emotions. 96% is an incredibly high number," Mette Lykke Nielsen, CEO of European office Fur Europe, says. However, there may be a second motivation for fur farmers to join the programme. Without the WelFur certificate, fur farmers will be cut off from selling their fur pelts at the international fur auction houses by 2020. WelFur is an animal welfare assessment system developed by independent scientists from seven European universities. It is based on the methodology of the European Commission's world-famous Welfare Quality programme. WelFur is by far the most comprehensive animal welfare programme to be implemented on a continental scale. Approximately 3,500 fur farms will be individually assessed and potentially certified.