People who support principles of animal welfare accept that animals are very important to us for many reasons, even vital to the survival of some communities. Animals have always provided us with food and clothing – from the earliest arrival of homo sapiens we have hunted animals. The earliest settlements were made possible through farming of livestock and crops, and various animal species have been farmed over thousands of generations. Modern farm animals are very different to their wild counterparts; it is no different in fur farming.
In modern times, numerous life-saving medical advances have been made possible only through being able to test procedures and drugs on animals. Many people derive a huge amount of comfort and affection from keeping pets. Given the huge and unending importance of animals to humans and our massive influence over them, animal welfare supporters believe that we humans have a duty to care for the wellbeing of animals we come into contact with and that we should endeavour to conserve sustainable animal populations and biodiversity. This is the belief of the IFTF and its members.
A note on animal rights:
Animal rights supporters believe that animals have the same legal and moral rights as human beings and that therefore humans cannot keep, use or manage animals, for any purpose, including: Medical Research, Farming / farmed animals, Meat, Milk and Eggs (including organic), Hunting and Fishing, Leather and Fur (including snakeskin, crocodile etc.), Wool, Cashmere, Pashmina, Angora, Silk, Zoos / Circuses/ Animal shelters/Pets and Horse-drawn carriages/ploughs etc. Animal rights groups exist to end the use of animals for any reason and invest an enormous proportion of their resources in publicity campaigns against the use of animals.
The IFTF and its members believe that people have a democratic right to make their own decisions about what to do for a legitimate living, what to eat and what to wear; people should not have to live in a world where a major lifestyle choice is removed altogether.
Fur farming is well regulated and operates within the highest standards of care.
In the European Union, Council Directive 98/58 sets down rules covering the welfare of all farmed animals, including fur farmed animals. Directive 93/119 deals with the slaughter and killing of fur and other farmed animals. Additionally, the Council of Europe adopted a Recommendation, revised in 1999, designed to ensure the health and welfare of farmed fur animals. The Recommendation deals comprehensively with matters of animal care, from the farming environment to stockmanship and inspection. Its requirements have been included in the European Fur Breeders' Association (EFBA) Code of Practice. The Recommendation is legally binding in Germany, has been incorporated into national law in Finland, Norway and Denmark. In addition, fur farming is covered by the same EU environmental laws that apply to all EU agricultural sectors.
In North America, fur farmers also follow strict Codes of Practice and conform to provincial, state or national animal welfare and other regulations. Regular veterinary checks are carried out in accordance with industry guidelines, provincial, state or national requirements. In the United States, a Merit Award programme has been introduced by the fur sector in consultation with veterinarians, animal scientists, wildlife biologists and farmers. The Award covers standards for the humane production of fur bearing animals and is achieved only after an independent inspection of the farm.
In Russia fur farming is covered by agricultural and company legislation, as well as specific laws on fur animal breeding.
Many producer countries have national authority or self-regulated industry inspection and reporting schemes, involving veterinary or other official scrutiny. For example in Denmark, all Danish mink farms are subject to annual, statutory veterinarian visits. The visits involve a routine inspection to identify any health or welfare issues on the farm. The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration also makes regular inspections of farm welfare.
Conditions on farms are thoroughly checked and advice on improvements given when required. Many farm associations also have voluntary certification programmes in place.
The trapping of animals whether for pest control, conservation reasons or for fur and meat is governed by the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards in Canada, Russia and EU and a similar agreement exists in the USA. The Canadian government and the IFTF continues to invest substantial funds under the Fur Institute of Canada into testing and promoting humane species specific traps, as well as trapper training programmes.