Last weekend I went to a huge torchlight procession against the Norwegian fur industry. Even though I’ve wanted to go for several years, I haven’t actually been to one before. This year however, I went with two of my friends from vet school, and was completely blown away by how many had shown up. The thing is, even though our politicians are protecting the industry, the majority of Norwegians are against the fur trade. Already as far back as in the 90’s, as much as 72% of Norwegians when asked if they had an opinion on the Norwegian fur industry said that they thought the practice was “wrong”, and more than 48% wanted to work actively against fur farming. Now that number has gone up to 68%, with more than half of the Norwegian population under 30 wanting a ban on all fur farming.
Why then does the industry get to continue production? This November the Norwegian minister of agriculture received more than 143000 signatures on a petition to ban fur farming in Norway as of 2017. Rather than making a commitment to significantly better conditions for the animals, or outright banning the industry, the minister made a statement saying that new guidelines would prohibit having more than one animal of the same sex in one cage. The statement also said while banning fur farming is completely feasible, from both a legal and practical standpoint; he claims that it would lead to considerable economic loss for the farmers, and a socioeconomic loss for the country. This, however, is simply not the case, as fur trade only accounts for less than one percent of our agricultural export, and of the farmers that have shut down their farms in the years between 2004-2012, 96% still live in the same area and most of them are currently in a paid position. In addition to not being significant to our economy, the industry is also bad for the environment. A study from the Dutch research group CE Delft stated that carbon emissions from fur farming and production are seven times that of faux fur. The same report also concluded that although there are some variations in these numbers, “a natural mink fur product will always have a higher environmental impact than faux fur”.
Many nations have even done away with the industry completely, most notably Austria, Croatia, the Netherlands and Great Britain. In the UK, the Fur Farming Act of 2000 banned all farming for the sake of fur production, and when the Act took effect in 2003, all fur farms across England and Wales ceased production. This ban also lead to bills being signed into law in both Scotland and Northern Ireland, based on the grounds of “public morality”, and as a way to hinder farmers to relocate and start production anew further north. Norwegian politicians and pro-fur activists argue that by keeping fur farming legal in Norway we can oversee the process and ensure that the animals’ needs are taken care of. However, even though animal welfare is mandatory by law to be upheld by the farmers, no legislation ensure that the animals’ natural behavioural needs are being met. Even the Norwegian Veterinary Association has come out with a statement saying that “the time has come to put an end to the fur industry.”
The time truly has come to end this purely vanity driven and cruel industry. Thinking back to the procession, I wish I’d gone sooner. If you have an opportunity to go in your area, I highly recommend it. By abolishing fur farming in one nation after another we’re sending a signal to the global society that wearing fur is an antiquated and unnecessary practice that has no place in an increasingly animal- and environmentally friendly world. I for one plan on going to my city’s torchlight procession every year until fur farming in Norway is a thing of the past.
PS: I highly recommend visiting NOAH's website at www.dyrsrettigheter.no, which is where I found most of the statistics used in this blog post, as well as taking the time to educate yourself on your country's policies on fur farming.