Fur farm Fur farming banned and laws tightened across Europe, Finland goes upstream: Mink production could even double

In Finland, fur production is growing and there is no significant tightening of legislation.

Fur farm has been ordered to end after a transitional period in European countries Belgium, Norway, France, Slovakia and Estonia.

Already, fur farming is banned or economically unprofitable in much of Europe due to strict animal welfare legislation. In Britain, for example, fur farming was banned as early as 2000.

The coronavirus pandemic also had an irreversible effect on fur farming. Last year, the coronavirus was found to be spreading among farmed minks. As a result, in many countries, such as Sweden, mink farming was temporarily banned until the end of 2021.

In the Netherlands, mink farming was finally stopped in January this year, when the ban on farming originally planned for 2023 was brought forward due to a coronavirus pandemic.

The worst effects of the pandemic were seen in Denmark, where 17 million minks were killed last November due to a coronavirus mutation in orchards.

Read more: It’s all over, says a Danish mink farmer – Denmark kills all 17 million of its mink, and now the Finnish company is becoming the largest in the world

Finland is the third largest fur farm in Europe, when the breeding figures of the two most common fur animals, mink and fox, are included. In addition to Denmark, only Poland is ahead of Finland, where a bill banning fur farming is currently being considered by the legislative machinery.

Can Finland become the leading country in fur farming in Europe?

Bridge seems, at least if the law banning fur farming goes through in Poland.

Although fur farming is still legal in Denmark, the country’s production will not return to the same level it has been until now. In addition to the cessation of minks, the infrastructure required to grow them has been run down, starting with feed kitchens.

“In principle, Denmark has the opportunity to continue fur production, but of course it is difficult, because all the country’s breeding animals have also been killed,” commented the executive director of the Finnish Fur Breeders’ Association Fifur. Marja Tiura.

According to Tiura, for example, returning to an annual production of 17 million units would require about a million breeding animals.

“If production is still wanted back to that level, everyone understands that it will take a long time,” says Tiura.

Finland seems to be moving in a different direction than other European countries. Although world fur production has declined, demand, especially from China and Russia, has remained stable. This has led to a sharp rise in mink prices in particular.

Fur production in Finland will increase in the next few years, says the CEO of Saga Furs fur auction company Magnus Ljung.

“For mink, production figures have already started to rise,” Ljung told HS in an interview.

Ljung estimates that Finnish mink production could even double in five years if the price development of mink skins remains at its current level.

CEO Magnus Ljung will present mink skins at Saga Furs’ premises in Vantaa.

Fifurin Tiura, on the other hand, says that in the long run, up to 4–5 million minks a year could be produced in Finland for feed production and farms.

“Of course, the member entrepreneurs themselves decide to increase production according to the market and costs.”

Unlike in many other European countries, there do not appear to be any significant tightening of legislation in Finland in the near future that would prevent the Finnish fur industry from growing.

In Finland fur farming rose to widespread national debate in 2013, when a citizens’ initiative aimed at banning fur farming advanced to parliament with almost 70,000 signatures. The initiative did not pass through Parliament, but in the aftermath a working group was set up to prepare for the tightening of the so-called fur regulation on the protection of fur animals.

The draft regulation was completed in 2015, but the then Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Kimmo Tiilikainen The (central) headed ministry suspended the preparatory work.

After the 2019 parliamentary elections, preparations continued with the help of the new government. Preparation of the center Jari Lepän however, was suspended again in the spring of 2020 after the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the minutes of the meeting at the time, the reason for the suspension was the effects of the coronavirus on the financial situation of fur farmers and the fact that “fur producers are not willing to put financial pressure on investing in fur animals”.

In the early summer, the reform work started again. Deputy Head of Department of the Ministry Taina Aaltonen according to the upgrade is expected to be completed in the fall. In terms of content, the update would largely correspond to an upgrade attempt five years ago.

In the draft at the time, the main changes to the existing requirements for fur farming were related to the fencing of farmland areas in order to prevent fur animals from escaping and wildlife from entering the farmland.

In addition, the previous draft regulation would have slightly increased the requirements for fur cages. According to the draft, for example, a sleeping shelf should have been added to the cages of mink.

Animalia’s CEO Heidi Kivekkää and Fifur’s CEO Marja Tiura have different views on the future of the fur industry.

Organization for the Protection of Animals Animalia and its executive director Heidi Kivekkä no significant tightening of the legislation is expected.

“In the sketches we’ve seen, the changes in fur animal conditions have been mostly cosmetic,” Kivekäs says.

According to him, the biggest changes would be small increases in the cage sizes of some fur animals. They are also opposed by industry interest groups.

“Even if they did materialize, the animals’ chances of implementing species-specific behavior would not improve,” Kivekäs says.

In addition to the preparation of the Fur Regulation, Kivekäs criticizes the reform of the Animal Welfare Act. Attempts have been made to reform the Animal Welfare Act, which dates from 1996, but preparations have been suspended time and time again.

“We think the best solution would be for fur farming to be directly banned under the Animal Welfare Act. Then a separate fur setting would not be needed either, ”says Kivekäs.

Fur animals in addition, Kivekkä believes that there should be a discussion on how to ensure the livelihood of fur farmers in the future. He believes that sooner or later the fur farming sector will cease either due to the cessation of demand or due to changes in legislation.

According to Kivekkä, entrepreneurs in the sector may find themselves in an unfortunate situation if the sector is not run down in a controlled manner.

The situation can be compared, for example, to peat producers, who are protesting loudly this spring in favor of continuing their livelihoods.

“Yes, our direction will certainly amaze the rest of Europe as well. I don’t think that fur farming is something we want to include in the Finnish brand, ”says Kivekäs.

Tiura did not want to comment further on Fifur’s goals regarding the reform of the fur regulation. However, he completely disagrees with Kivekkä about the future of the fur industry.

“It’s unfortunate that a few animal rights organizations are always on the move with a stop card. There is a clear demand and even a growing market for responsibly produced furs and other natural materials. ”

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