mink in fur farm

Fur Farming: Why it’s time to leave the industry behind

The Kept Animals Proposal is the perfect opportunity to implement an EU- wide ban on fur farming within the upcoming new animal welfare legislation, and there are many reasons why we need the ban now. 


Since the organisation was founded thirty-five years ago in Vienna, FOUR PAWS has successfully pushed for Austria to ban fur farming, and now its time for the whole of the European Union to ban fur farms once and for all. 

This year has been full of important advancements for the Fur Free Europe campaign. With the success of the European Citizens’ Initiative following the validation of 1.5 million signatures and a plea made by 18 Member States to the European Commission at the Council of the EU’s last AGRIFISH meeting to implement a ban in the upcoming animal welfare legislation, things are moving towards the right direction. However, the battle is not over yet.  

Due to a reduced demand, legal restrictions in 19 EU Member States and devastating COVID-19 outbreaks on mink farms, global production numbers are declining. Yet the EU, along with China, is still one of the main producers of furs traded worldwide. Still today, the fur industry is regarded as an important economic activity in the eyes of national governments. 

While most people would not consider buying a fur coat anymore, fur is still used for decorative pieces of clothing and accessories. Whether a fur pom-pom, fur collar or fur trimming on jackets and scarves, each tiniest piece of trim is directly connected to cruelty to animals. No matter how much fur is used, from an animal welfare perspective, real fur is never 'ethically correct'.

In 2021, 23 million mink, 9 million raccoon dogs and 12 million foxes were reared and killed for their fur

To get the full picture of how the fur industry operates, watch this documentary for free on Waterbear: SLAY film - watch for free on WaterBear 

Note: Any advertisements that may appear during the viewing of this video are unrelated to FOUR PAWS. We assume no liability for this content.

Why is fur farming particularly dangerous to public health?

As these animals are kept and slaughtered solely for their fur rather than for human consumption, their physical and mental wellbeing is completely disregarded. Whether they suffer from infections, mutilations, or obesity - for the industry, none of it matters as long as their fur can be extracted and sold. As the housing systems used on fur farms are designed to maximise the number of animals, the close proximity of these wild animals, mostly carnivore, induces high levels of stress, fear, stereotypic behaviour, fur-chewing, tail-biting, physical deformities, reproductive failure and infant mortality.  

A salient example of the public health consequences brought by these unsanitary and low-welfare practices is the spread of Covid-19 in Danish mink farms. The first case of Covid-19 in the EU was reported in the Netherlands before later being detected in farms located in Denmark, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Greece, France, Lithuania, Poland, and Latvia.  

Fur farms are at high risk for zoonotic disease

The way fur farms operate creates a perfect storm for the emergence and rapid spread of disease, putting both humans and animals at risk. Some key factors include:  

  • High density of animals closely put together
  • Low genetic diversity of animals 
  • Poor hygiene and sanitary practices 
  • Open-sided housing that allows contact with wild animals who may transfer diseases

Looking ahead

As the new proposals are being drafted, we must keep the pressure on the Commission and MEPs to ensure a ban on fur farming will be include in the proposed animal welfare legislation. Now that Member States have validated signatures from the ECI campaign, the Commission will meet with organizers to discuss a fur farming and marketing ban. 

The European Parliament will have a hearing on the issue during Autumn and the Commission will have to give a response around December.  

Mink vs. strawberry farming

The sudden shut-down of thousands of Danish mink farms in 2020 has shown us that a quick transition is possible – and welcome. Most farmers that have had to shut down their fur farming activities have now moved on to other things. 

Even though the Danish government has now allowed mink farming to restart some have switched to farming strawberries and other vegetables. This is the case of Aase and Ejner Rask who had been farming mink since the 1980s, reported The Guardian; since the Covid-19 shutdown they started growing strawberries and haven’t looked back since.  

“It has been cheaper than going to a psychologist. At least strawberries don’t bite and everyone likes them.”

Ejner Rask, former mink farmer

Fur farming is an outdated industry that produces unnecessary and easily replaceable fashion items which has dramatic impacts on animal welfare, humans and the environment. It’s time to leave the industry behind. 

Aubrey Collins

Aubrey Collins

Wild Animal Policy Coordinator


Rue Ducale 29
 1000 Brussels

FOUR PAWS - European Policy Office

Morgane Speeckaert

Morgane Speeckaert

EU Communications Coordinator


+32 2 74 00 888

+39 331 365 4110

Rue Ducale 29, 1000 Brussels


European Policy Office

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