European Commission to visit fur farms in Finland


European Commission to visit fur farms in Finland

8 March 2024
As part of the evaluation for a ban on fur farming following the successful European Citizens’ Initiative Fur Free Europe, representatives of the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety will visit Finnish fur farms between 8 - 15 March.

The visits are part of a wider fact-finding mission on pandemic preparedness and control, with a focus on non-foodborne zoonotic disease agents.

They aim to collect and assess information on the level of surveillance in mink farms for zoonotic infections with zoonotic agents such as SARS-CoV2 and avian influenza. The visits may also include a review of the animal welfare conditions. 

These assessments of public health and animal welfare are part of the follow up on the European Citizens’ Initiative Fur Free Europe, where over 1.5 million European citizens called for a EU wide ban on fur farming and the sale of farmed fur products due to animal cruelty and public safety risks. 

Finland is one of the EU’s biggest fur producing countries, and avian influenza spread widely in the country in 2023, on 71 of 400 farms.

Some organisations have criticised the timing of the visits during breeding season, where the farms will be void of young animals being reared for the next season, as breeding animals will typically give birth from May. 

The visits are also pre-announced, giving farmers the opportunity to present the best possible conditions to inspectors. 

Even when visiting these farms under the best possible conditions, inspectors will be able to see how standard housing on fur farms fails to meet the behavioural needs of wild animals such as mink and foxes.

A typical mink cage on European fur farms has a floor area of only 4 sheets of A4 paper, and denies the animals the opportunity to perform natural behaviours such as swimming, climbing and jumping.

Mink and foxes are also solitary animals who would choose to live alone in their natural habitats, whereas fur farms see them housed in rows of cages in extremely close proximity. 

The Fur Free Europe network awaits news on the outcomes of these visits, which we expect to support the need to move ahead with an outright ban on farming animals for their fur in the European Union.