The perception of the ethical fur farming in Finland is a part of mindset, in which, unlike in other countries, there is no violence towards animals in Finnish slaughterhouses, Finnish food-producing animals live a better life than in other countries, nuclear power in Finland is risk-free, and Finland doing more to protect the environment than other countries.
Finnish fur farming is, however, identical animal mass production, in identical open-sided sheds, cages and with as little attention paid to the animals, as it is in other countries. In addition, the Finnish fur industry is a major international force that works to promote the fur industry around the world.
Since 2011 Finns have owned Saga Furs, which was originally a joint Nordic fur marketing organization. As animal welfare policies have progressed elsewhere, the other Nordic countries have one by one left Saga Furs. Finland is the only original Saga country, where it is still legal to farm all possible species of animals for fur, including raccoon dogs.
Now Finland and the Finnish fur industry is the sole owner of this listed company, which sells about 9 million fur pelts each year - especially in the Far East. The company is a significant fur marketing organization - which operates mainly in the Far East.
Saga Furs has been present in China since the first years of China's opening-up. The effort to increase the use of fur is extensive. At the same time, China has developed into the world's largest fur producing country. Starting at nearly zero, China has grown into a country that produces millions of fur animals each year, though the figures vary from 8 to 80 million animals per year. The Chinese are proud that their fur farming practices have been created using the Finnish expertise.
When the Chinese animal rights groups are asked, what would be the most important way in which we could support anti-fur work in China, the answer is clear: to prohibit farming in Europe. Stop presenting fur in the European fashion shows. The Chinese want to be just as advanced and fashionable as the westerners (sic!). If the West says no to fur, the East will follow at some point. This is the answer the Chinese will give, even without knowing how much the Finns are working to keep the fur in a Chinese street scene.
A ban on fur farming in Finland would also mean a significant reduction in unethical fur lobbying operations in Asia.
The author is the Executive Director at Animalia – Federation for the protection of animals.
Inside Fur on Saturday, 21 November at Andorra at 16.00. After the film, there will be a discussion on the future of the fur farming with the director of Fur Inside, Ola Waagen, journalist Nina Malmberg, undercover photographer and animal rights activist Kristo Muurimaa, and Executive Director of Animalia Mai Kivelä.