Norway’s government plans to phase out fox and mink farms by 2025, making it the first Scandinavian country to take the step. Prime Minister Erna Solberg made the pledge to end all fur farming as part of a deal with the anti-fur Liberal Party, which is now set to join her two-party minority government.
According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Norway has nearly 300 fur farms, which produce fur from 700,000 minks and 110,000 foxes every year. The number of farms used to be far higher, however. In 1939, the Nordic nation was the world’s biggest producer of fox fur and was home to almost 20,000 farms, according to a government report cited by Reuters. In 2013, by contrast, Norway produced only about three percent of 7.3 million fox furs worldwide and one percent of world mink output of 72.6 million, with both markets now dominated by China.
Guri Wormdahl, of the Norwegian Fur Breeders Association, said the organisation was "shocked [and] shaken to the core" by the news, adding that fur farms have an annual turnover of between 350 million to 500 million Norwegian crowns ($44-$63 million). Sveinung Fjose, of Menon Business Economics and an expert on fur farms, had a different opinion. “It’s not a very lucrative business in Norway,” the news agency quoted him as saying. “It wouldn’t harm the Norwegian economy severely” to close it down.
Minister for Agriculture Jon Georg Dal called the decision a setback and criticised it for the economic impact it could have on 400 people employed on fur farms. “My job will now be to implement this in a way that ensures fur farmers receive sufficient compensation in the phasing-out period,” the Local Norway quoted the minister as saying.
But the development was welcomed by animal rights charities and ethical consumers.“This is a fantastic victory for the fight to stop the fur industry in Europe,” Thorbjørn Schiønning of Anima said in a press statement. "We’re very pleased,” animal rights group Noah leader Siri Martinsen said. Humane Society International, which campaigns against the fur trade, said in a statement that Norway was the 14th European nation to phase out fur farming. "Fur farming bans have been introduced in Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, the Netherlands, Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia and the United Kingdom, with bans being considered in Belgium and Luxembourg" it said.
The Norwegian Animal Protection Alliance (NAPA) who had been lobbying since 2001 for the restriction, stated: “NAPA applauds the commitment to ban fur farming by 2025. However, the political path leading to the phase out of fur farming in Norway is still in the distance...There are also national elections in 2021, which could disrupt the process.”
Though the ban is currently awaiting a parliamentary vote, the majority of the country's political parties are expected to support it.
Last year, Italy’s fashion house Gucci announced it would no longer use animal fur in its products, joining the ranks of Armani, Ralph Lauren, Vivenne Westwood among others, looking at alternatives after coming under pressure from animal rights activists. US luxury label Michael Kors after meeting with PETA officials last month announced that will cease using fur in its collections with production being phased out by the end of December 2018. The new policy will also apply to Jimmy Choo, which Michael Kors Holdings acquired in July. “Due to technological advances in fabrications, we now have the ability to create a luxe aesthetic using non-animal fur," Kors said.
It seems that the fashion industry is shifting away from its controversial relationship with fur, one major brand at a time. The developments will inevitably send ripples through the international fur trade, a market estimated to be worth over $40 billion and to employ over one million people.
The Norwegian ban comes after a long-standing debate over the issue in the Scandinavian country, where some of Europe’s largest anti-fur demonstrations have also taken place. We welcome the initiative and we hope all governments and fashion houses around the world will follow suit. We no longer need animal's skin to keep us warm. There are materials which are far warmer. Therefore fur coats are just ego-boosters. And nowadays, ego is something totally out of fashion.
Erna Solberg was born in 1961 and is serving as Prime Minister of Norway since October 2013 and Leader of the Conservative Party since May 2004. She is Norway's second female Prime Minister after Gro Harlem Brundtland.