World premiere of certified natural fur pelts
Dec 19, 2019 by Mick Madsen
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.
Other Stories In This Issue
‘This is Fur’ kicks off 21-23 January
Dec 15, 2019 by Mick Madsen
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 exited," 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?"
Sustainable fur takes the stage in the European Parliament
Dec 18, 2019 by Mick Madsen
At the initiative of Fur Europe, a new forum of discussion will be launched in 2020 in the European Parliament: the Sustainable Fur Forum (SFF). The Sustainable Fur Forum intends to address topics aligned with the political priorities of the next European Commission, including the European Green Deal, the New Circular Economy Action Plan and the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. These axes can find answers in different areas of interest for the fur sector:
- - Circular fashion: A fashion respecting the environment and animal welfare, and based on traceability, transparency and skills.
- - Slow fashion: The promotion of biodegradable, recyclable, renewable, reusable and long-lasting materials like natural fur.
- - Consumer protection: Providing safe products as well as correct and meaningful information to consumers.
- - Animal welfare: For science-based solutions through the independent development of reliable animal welfare assessment indicators.
- - Invasive alien species: Protecting biodiversity while taking socio-economic aspects into consideration.
European fur community is ready for Green Deal
Dec 18, 2019 by Mick Madsen
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 initiatives 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 common 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 in order to reconcile industry practices with the sector’s aim to protect the environment and biodiversity in Europe. In view of 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. A 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 is 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 cooperate 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.
Take a 360° VR Tour Around a Fox Farm
Dec 17, 2019 by Vladislava Gospodinova
European livestock sector unites to ‘burst’ the myths
Dec 10, 2019 by Mick Madsen
Representatives from the European livestock sector gathered today in front of the European Commission buildings in Brussels to address the danger of oversimplifying the debate around livestock and its role in European society. This flash action echoes a number of concerns highlighted by the numerous protests that have taken place in different European countries in recent weeks. Aiming to tackle the myths that prevail online today and the agri-bashing related to livestock production, the European Livestock Voice, a group of EU-based organisations that are active on livestock issues, decided to raise their voices at EU-level by bringing together farmers, MEPs and other actors from the sector to 'burst' a series of balloons carrying common myths or misinformation in front of the European Commission building. This action took place on the first day of the European Commission’s Agricultural Outlook conference and a few days after the new European Commission was appointed in order to try to rebalance the debate around livestock production. Marianne Streel, President of the Wallonian Farmers Organisation, who was present during the flash action, said "We want to urge people and policy-makers to pay attention to the European livestock sector and to the misleading information that is damaging its reputation and endangering farmers’ livelihoods and even their lives in some cases. In Wallonia, farms shut up shop every day. In the last 10 years, 31% of our farms have disappeared. These are clear and frightening figures that can also be found in other Member States. If we lose our livestock farms, the repercussions will be significant in many areas, both in our countryside and on our plates. These consequences are currently overlooked in the debates because we tend to forget the positive aspects of livestock in Europe." In this regard, professionals from the sector are starting to mobilise to raise awareness throughout Europe, from Ireland to Italy, with initiatives that aim to make their point of view heard and remind decision-makers that the debate on these issues is also constantly evolving at academic level. The European Livestock Voice launched an initial campaign at EU level supported by a website with the aim to engage in the debate, focusing on facts and feedback from professionals in the sector. During the flash action, the organisers announced that the group will continue and expand these actions in the coming months. “We need to stand up with facts and figures. I am a strong supporter of the European Campaign #MeattheFacts, because it shows the livestock contribution to soil fertility, carbon sequestration, organic fertilizers, bioeconomy etc. There is no healthy environment or balanced healthy diet without livestock production! In addition, it is important to have in mind that around 30 million jobs are linked to the livestock sector, many of them in areas with risk of abandonment or desertification. This sector is crucial for keeping our rural areas alive,” said Mazaly Aguilar (ECR).