Speaking in a parliamentary debate on 15 January, Swedish Minister for Rural Affairs, Jennie Nilsson, said there is no scientific foundation for claiming poor animal welfare in Swedish mink production, and has consequently rejected a proposed ban on fur farming in Sweden.
The Minister cited scientific recommendations by the Swedish Board of Agriculture, published in January 2018, a work commissioned with the exact purpose of scrutinising mink production for animal welfare issues, which would point to new legislation if needed.
Based on a scientific review of current literature, The Swedish Board of Agriculture did not find reason to suggest new legislation. Instead the Board drew attention to an improved animal welfare performance in the Swedish mink production since 2012, which has been fuelled by the Swedish fur farmers’ own, voluntary health scheme.
Minister stressed importance of scientific fact
This industry initiative was also highlighted by the Minister, who stressed the scientific basis of the 2018 recommendations, as well as the importance of legislation based on scientific knowledge:
“The Board of Agriculture relied on the Scientific Committee. As a responsible minister this is an incredibly important tool in such [animal welfare] contexts. I think it is important to make decisions, that to the extent possible are based on scientific facts,” she said.
Can’t compare domesticated mink with wild counterpart
Other relevant welfare issues were likewise scrutinised by Swedish experts. It’s worth noting that the 2018 study established that as farmed mink is domesticated, it cannot be compared to its wild counterpart.
Similarly, the study established that swimming water is not an essential need for farmed mink, and found the appearance of stereotypical behaviour at a very low level, which furthermore cannot be associated with herds, but only individuals.
Future improvements through new WelFur programme
It was further noted by the Minister that more research would be desirable as well as the option for future welfare improvements in Swedish fur production to come through the new European-wide WelFur programme, which is based on the principles of the European Commission’s Welfare Quality program and provides additional scientific validation based on animal behaviour.
This news item was referenced from Sustainablefur.com