Did you know that fur farms across Europe are planning to introduce voluntary welfare assessments from January 2017, and that the European fur auction houses have pledged to only trade fur under this scheme from 2020? This pledge means that unless farmers enter the voluntary scheme, they will find it harder and harder to sell their skins. Fur produced outside the scheme will not find its way to the market so easily and subsequently, the majority of European fur will be from assessed farms with an acceptable welfare score. This takes the decision about fur provenance away from the consumer, putting it firmly with the trade itself. The European fur trade is taking control, in order to leave poor fur farming standards behind it.
It is worth mentioning that despite the fact that this scheme is lead by the EFT itself and not the consumer directly, doesn't mean there isn't a desire from consumers for fur to be produced humanely. Ultimately, it is the demand of consumers which has driven fur trade growth in recent years and they are increasingly seeking out brands and retailers who can demonstrate they use ethical fur. Bravo consumers!
So you might be wondering, what exactly is an 'acceptable welfare score'? These voluntary assessments (known as WelFur), will cover the two main fur animal species: mink and fox. Once the scheme has been voluntarily joined, the farmer will pay for an independent company to carry out an audit in order to determine the score. This assessment includes here a farm inspection three times a year which rates the housing (cage size, shelves, straw and toys), management (feeding and care), as well as the general health of the animals. For example, one test involves putting a stick through the bars of the cage to test the response of the mink inside. An inquisitive mink that approaches the stick is considered to be well adjusted. Any animal that backs off and appears fearful, is considered likely to be living under stress.
While at Tallis we only use vintage mink and wild fox in our ranges, we are strong proponents of any positive changes to the fur trade industry that will encourage consumers to explore the use of this natural textile. A cleaner, fairer industry benefits animals and consumers alike and we're happy to see the industry we're a part of making changes for the better.
- Lilly Milligan Gilbert, Tallis - Geneva, 26 October 2016