Flemish Parliament approves ban on fur farming and force feeding
“It’s a great day for hundreds of thousands of minks who suffer each year in Flanders and are gassed for their fur. Flanders will also end the cruel practice of foie gras production.” Global Action in the Interest of Animals (GAIA) applauds yesterdays unanimous decision by the Flemish parliament to ban fur farming and force feeding for fois gras production. The members of the Flemish parliament unanimously agreed the decision proposed earlier by the Flemish government on the initiative of Flemish animal welfare minister Ben Weyts (N-VA). GAIA president Michel Vandenbosch, who was involved 30 years ago in founding the very first anti-fur association in Belgium ‘Comité Anti Fourrure’, witnessed this reward after more than a quarter of a century of actions and campaigning against the suffering and abuse of hundreds of thousands of minks and ducks. Michel Vandenbosch: “Yesterdays agreement to forbid the practice in Flanders follows bans in Wallonia (in 2015) and the Brussels Region (in 2017) and means that the entire country will be free of fur farming by 2023 at the latest. Moreover, by banning force feeding, Flanders also joins the European top when it comes to animal welfare.”
By 1 December 2023 at the latest, the last of the 17 remaining fur farms and the only company in Flanders still to force feed ducks for the production of foie gras will have disappeared. The companies concerned will receive degressive compensation from the Flemish government. The sooner they stop, the higher the compensation will be. The government is to provide a total of 10 million euros for this purpose.
No support for fur
Wallonia and Brussels already banned mink farming in their regions back in 2015 and 2017 respectively. In Flanders there are still 17 active mink farms holding an annual combined total of around 200,000 minks (mothers and young) in captivity. The animals live for 7 to 8 months in a tiny cage before being gassed and ending up as a garment or accessory in the shops. These are wild animals and display highly neurotic behaviour in captivity (incessantly jumping up and down, self-mutilation, etc.). “It pays to persist. Breeding and killing animals for their fur alone is completely outdated”, stresses GAIA president Michel Vandenbosch. “A great majority of the Flemish people shares this opinion.”
The fact there is no social support for fur production is repeatedly demonstrated in surveys. The last survey, conducted by Ipsos in 2015 on behalf of GAIA, showed that 85% of the Flemish people agreed to the ban on the breeding and killing of animals for fur.
Jean-Claude Van Damme and Pamela Anderson
GAIA stepped up its fight against mink farming in Flanders over the years with numerous campaigns. In 2011, the organisation teamed up with Jean-Claude Van Damme to launch the campaign ‘The Victims’. At the end of December 2017, none other than Pamela Anderson wrote a letter to the Flemish minister Ben Weyts calling him to take urgent action on the ban.
So far a ban has been enforced in eleven other European countries: the United Kingdom, Austria, the Netherlands, Norway, Croatia, Slovenia, the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, the Republic of Macedonia, the Czech Republic and Luxembourg. Big fashion labels like Gucci, Armani, Hugo Boss, etc. are also excluding fur from their collections. The list keeps growing. “Fashion and ethics go increasingly hand in hand. We are delighted that Flanders will now contribute to a fur-free world”, says Vandenbosch.
Ban on force feeding
The ban on force feeding calls a halt to a cruel form of animal abuse in Flanders which remained in only one West-Flemish company. The Brussels Region already enforced a ban on force feeding for the production of foie gras in 2017. Resistance to force feeding is also growing across Europe: 12 European countries have already launched a formal ban or interpret the law for the protection of animals in such a way as to condemn the practice. Only 5 EU countries are still producing foie gras (France, Spain, Bulgaria, Hungary, Belgium). “We are committed to continue our campaigning in Wallonia, where 9 producers continue the use of force-feeding methods.”