21 Fur Farms Failed to Obtain WelFur Certificate
Apr 08, 2020 by Mick Madsen
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.
Other Stories In This Issue
“We must make sure the fur sector stays viable and can weather the crisis”
Apr 08, 2020 by Mick Madsen
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.
Fur Accessories Designer is Sewing Masks to Fight Pandemic
Apr 07, 2020 by Vladislava Gospodinova
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 Ι 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.
Fur Associations Donate Protective Equipment and Funds to Hospitals
Apr 06, 2020 by Mick Madsen
Fur farmers in Norway have donated 2,000 pieces of protective equipment to the health sector. "Contributing to the community is a matter of course for us since we have the equipment in stock the community needs. Through our daily work with animals, we know how important good infection control equipment is," said Guri Wormdahl, Head of Communications at the Norwegian Fur Breeders' Association. The donation was forwarded following a request by the Directorate of Health, who made a national call for protective equipment. Usually, the protective gear is distributed to fur farm visitors in Norway, but visits are not allowed at the moment. The 2,000 full-body protection gears are now being put to good use at Akerhus University Hospital in Oslo. Also, the International Fur Federation (IFF) is lending a hand to the community. Early April, IFF distributed a grant of 25,000 euro between hospitals in Italy, Greece, Romania, Canada and Turkey.