The EU should close the 7200 fur farms that degrade animal rights and European values

Don't miss this article from EU Today

It is time for us to end fur farming in Europe, writes Jennifer Hamerman of the European Campaign for Animal Rights.

There are 7200 fur farms in Europe and the EU accounts for 66 percent of global mink production and 70 percent of fox production. Animals on fur farms live in cramped and dirty wire cages. They are killed using the cheapest and most cruel methods, including suffocation, electrocution, gas, and poison. This practice is inhumane and has no place anywhere. Let us end it in our own backyard and send a signal to the rest of the world that fur farming is cruel.

Mink are wild and solitary by nature. They are not herd animals like many other farm animals. Mink and fox are territorial and, in the wild, go to great lengths to defend their territories. As acknowledged by the European Commission’s own report, these animals are unsuited to intensive farming and confinement. When these essentially wild animals are kept in small, wire cages on fur farms, they have been found to exhibit behaviours such as pacing along the cage wall, repetitive circling or nodding of the head and self-mutilation.

Mink on fur farms are usually gassed to death after being placed one after the other in killing boxes. Another method used is anal electrocution which requires considerable restraint, and use of electrodes inserted into orifices. If cardiac arrest is caused without first inducing unconsciousness, there is potential for the animal to experience extreme pain and distress. It is clear that both life and death on fur farms equal misery for the animals.

We can take heart from the fact that several EU Member States have recognised the inherent cruelty of raising and killing wild animals in this way. Austria, the United Kingdom and Croatia passed legislation to prohibit the breeding of animals for fur production. The Netherlands has also embarked on a process to phase-out mink farms by 2024.

However, this leaves many countries across the European Union where the practice of fur farming is still legal. This means that companies facing a ban in one country can simply move their production to another EU country that does not yet have a ban. This has been seen most recently with companies from the Netherlands moving farms to countries such as Romania. It seems sad that some newer EU members feel the need to permit such inhumane practices on their territory. In the case of Romania it is difficult to understand why a country with such a highly trained workforce, abundant natural resources, advantageous geographical location and a great capacity for high tech innovation needs to allow fur farming, a practice rejected as cruel in Croatia, the UK and Austria.

This is an industry that inflicts extreme cruelty, both in the way it forces animals to live and the methods used to kill. There are countless natural and synthetic alternatives for the clothing industry to use. We have no need or excuse for this industry. Europe faces so many competing challenges at the moment but we would argue that how we treat animals is central to our worth and values as a society. Let us bring an end to unnecessary cruelty and act to ban fur farming across Europe.