Italy bans fur farming for good – who’s next?

16 February 2022

Italy has banned the breeding of animals for fur from January onwards. A historic victory for all animal advocates who have been pushing for this for years. “This decision has an epochal significance throughout Italy”, according to Cristiano Ceriello, leader of the Italian political party for animal rights Partito Animalista Italiano, which has been campaigning off- and online along with other Italian animal rights organisations.

The Partito Animalista Italiano and other animal rights organisations demonstrating for a ban on fur outside National Parliament.

As of 1 January this year, no more animals will be bred and killed for their fur. While many fur farms in Italy have already been closed, the remaining few – breeding and killing 60,000 mink per year – will be dismantled by the end of June the latest. The animals will be sterilised and transferred to shelters, and the government has reserved a budget to convert former farms into cropland and solar energy plants. Last year, a temporary ban on the breeding of mink was already issued after outbreaks of COVID-19 among the animals gave rise to fears of the industry’s impact on public health. Now the ban has been made permanent and includes foxes, chinchillas and racoon dogs as well.

Both wins are the result of intensive campaigning and of raising awareness among Italian public and politicians. “After the scandal in Denmark and a good media campaign the public opinion was ready to call for this ban,” party leader Cristiano Ceriello of the Partito Animalista Italiano explains. Over the last year, the party intensified its campaign, calling for a total ban on fur in the media, on social media and out on the streets and meeting with the minister of Health to discuss public health risks associated with the industry. “International developments and the fact that other countries were closing down fur farms, helped the government to make this decision,” according to Ceriello.

Towards the end of fur - worldwide

Worldwide, about 100 million animals are killed for their fur each year – including mink, foxes, rabbits, raccoon dogs, cats and dogs. Fortunately, more and more people have become aware of the cruel practices in fur farming and there is growing recognition of the industry’s negative impact on the environment, climate and public health. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it also turned out to be a reservoir of infectious diseases, when outbreaks – and mutations of the virus – occurred on mink farms in Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, the United States and elsewhere.

No wonder several major players in fashion industry such as fashion brands Prada, Armani and most recently Dolce & Gabbana as well as Elle magazine, have vowed to stop using and promoting fur. And more and more countries have put an end to their fur industry in recent years. One major win was the end of fur farming in the Netherlands – Europe’s second biggest and the world’s fourth largest mink fur industry – achieved by the Dutch Party for the Animals in 2020. Other countries have prohibited the production of fur (Croatia, Slovenia, North Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, Estonia, Slovakia, Norway, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic and now Italy) or the import of mink (New Zealand).

Much however, remains to be done. While an important ban on dog and cat fur has been in force in the European Union since 2009, the fur of other kinds of animals bred and killed in the world’s largest fur industry (China) can still be imported and sold in the EU and many countries worldwide. While Israel was the first country worldwide to ban the sale of fur, the Dutch Party for the Animals proposed a ban to import fur and fur products into the Netherlands. Along with its sister parties in Italy and elsewhere across the globe, it continues to fight for a complete ban on the production, import -and- trade of all kinds of fur - in the Netherlands, Italy, Europe and beyond.