Dame Joanna Lumley leads celebrities, MPs and Peers in sending giant Mother’s Day card to Defra calling on them to facilitate ‘The Crate Escape’ for mother pigs

Humane Society International / United Kingdom

Compassion in World Farming. The Crate Escape event. The Houses of Parliament, London. © Nacho Rivera

LONDON—New polling data shows that less than one in five people in Britain (19.8%) support the use of pig farrowing crates. Yet, every year on UK farms, over 200,000 mother pigs are confined for up to five weeks at a time in small cages in which they can’t even turn around.

Today, The Crate Escape campaign led by Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, Humane Society International/UK and Compassion in World Farming held a Parliamentary reception hosted by Mark Francois MP calling on the UK Government to ban farrowing crates and support farmers to transition away from their use. The reception, which was attended by cross-party MPs and Peers, raised awareness of the suffering sows endure when they are forced to spend almost a quarter of their lives in cages so small, they cannot even turn around.

A giant Mother’s Day card signed by dozens of MPs, Peers and celebrities, including Dame Joanna Lumley, was delivered to Defra after the reception. The card asks Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey to ‘please give pigs a happier Mother’s Day’ and urges her to deliver on the Government’s 2021 commitment to launch a consultation for a farrowing crate ban.

The reception coincided with the publication of a new Survation poll [1], carried out in March 2023, which also found that two-thirds of those polled would support the Government providing financial support to farmers to move to free-farrowing methods. Only 15.5% would presently oppose a ban on farrowing crates.

Speaking at the reception, Anna Firth, Conservative MP for Southend West, said: “Pig farrowing is one of the most inhumane, restrictive farming systems still in existence in the UK and the European Union. Pig farrowing crates have to go. […] I’m proud of the fact that this Government has introduced the Animal Health and Welfare Pathway, which amongst many things, pledges to explore reforming our use of pig farrowing crates. So we have a Government that’s committed to a future where this system is no longer necessary, which I commend, but what that means is that we must hold their feet to the fire, we must, all of us, urge this Government to continue putting pressure to make sure that this aim becomes a reality.”

Speaking at the reception, Shadow Defra Spokesperson Baroness Sue Hayman said: “These are mothers. I’m sure I’m not the only mother in the room, how would we feel if it was the practice to put us in a cage […] it’s an absolute outrage, there isn’t any other way of putting it. […] The Government has talked about [banning farrowing crates] so it is time that the UK caught up and actually started the process to make banning an actuality.”

Claire Bass, senior director of campaigns and public affairs at Humane Society International/UK, commented: “Pigs are intelligent and sensitive animals, and the torment they suffer while confined in tiny cages for weeks on end is heartbreaking. Our polling shows that the majority of Brits, over 60%, had not even heard of farrowing crates despite their widespread use. That’s a worrying indication of how disconnected consumers are from the grim reality for animals suffering on factory farms. If we’re truly a nation of animal lovers then we can and must do better than this, mothers should not be kept in cages.”

Lorraine Platt, co-founder of Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, commented: “We were delighted to see Parliamentarians, NGOs, charities and campaigners come together as one voice in Parliament to call for an end to the use of farrowing crates in the UK. The Crate Escape reception was a clear display of the strong public and political will to end the suffering 60% of our national pig herd endure every year.

We would like to thank our host Mark Francois MP, as well as our other speakers including Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation Head of Research Dr Steve McCulloch, Shadow Defra Spokesperson Baroness Hayman, and our Patron Anna Firth MP. The Crate Escape will continue to support the Government’s aim for farrowing crates to longer be necessary, and we look forward to seeing this objective become a reality.”

James West, senior policy manager at Compassion in World Farming, commented: “Around 200,000 sows are confined in crates in the UK each year. Stuck in pens so narrow that they can barely move, mother pigs are forced to feed their piglets through bars. The use of these cruel cages causes unimaginable suffering.

The UK Government has promised to review the use of cages in British farming, and recent polling shows that the British public want a ban, with less than one in five people supporting the use of farrowing crates. It’s time for the Government to listen to public opinion and take the next step to facilitating The Crate Escape by finally publishing the long-awaited consultation.”


Notes to editor

  1. Polling carried out by Survation via online panel, with 1,074 total respondents, on 2nd-3rd March 2023. Results released on 16th March 2023.

Humane Society International / United Kingdom

Christopher Shoebridge/We Animals Media

Pigs are sensitive and highly intelligent animals, and they are suffering on British farms. Across the UK, around 200,000 mother pigs (sows) are kept in ‘farrowing crates’—cages barely bigger than they are for up to five weeks at a time, several times a year.

What are farrowing crates?

Shortly before she is due to give birth, a sow is typically moved to a farrowing crate, a small metal cage which severely restricts the sow’s movement and denies her strong natural instinct to build a nest before giving birth.

Sows suffer when they are forced to spend much of their lives behind bars and a typical sow spends almost a quarter (22%) of her adult breeding life in a farrowing crate only slightly larger than she is, preventing her from turning around or caring for her newborn piglets in the ways she naturally would. This is the devastating reality for around 60% of mother pigs in the UK. Investigations show that living in such cramped conditions can clearly cause mental distress for the sows, and physical wounds from repeated rubbing against the bars are common.

Farrowing crates are used by some farmers to reduce piglet mortality however in well-designed and well-managed free farrowing pens piglet mortality can be as low as, or even lower than, in farrowing crates.

What’s the alternative to using farrowing crates?

Several indoor free-farrowing systems that permit the sow to move freely, whilst still reducing the risk of piglet mortality, are commercially available and in use in a number of countries, including the UK. Free-farrowing systems designed and produced in Britain are being used in the UK, USA and Canada. Farrowing crates have already been banned or severely restricted in Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Austria and Germany, and the European Commission has pledged to end the use of cages and crates for farmed animals by 2027.

Banning farrowing crates

Humane Society International/UK has joined forces with Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation and Compassion in World Farming for ‘The Crate Escape’—our campaign calling on the UK Government to outlaw the use of pig farrowing crates. The Government committed to review the use of farrowing crates in 2021, and it’s time for them to follow through on this commitment, starting with a consultation. We need our politicians, as well as major retailers, to financially support pig farmers to transition away from using farrowing crates.

HSI/UK commissioned a poll that revealed that less than 1 in 5 surveyed people support the use of farrowing crates on British farms.

Take action to ban farrowing crates.

You can also help animals at every meal by taking them off your plate.

Humane Society International / United Kingdom

Around 40% of pigs on British farms are already crate-free, but we need the government to support farmers to make that 100%.

Humane Society International / United Kingdom

Urge your MP to attend the debate on 17 March and speak in strong support of the bill

British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force chef instructors tried their hands at creating plant-based meals in a culinary masterclass held by Humane Society International/UK, Veganuary and Plant Futures

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


LONDON—Military chef instructors from across the Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force and Civil Service have taken part in a masterclass on plant-based cuisine as part of a culinary training workshop held by Humane Society International/UK, Veganuary and Plant Futures.

Chef instructors from the UK Defence Food Services Training Wing at Worthy Down, Winchester, undertook HSI/UK’s Forward Food training in January. The session covered the fundamentals of making flavoursome, plant-based dishes, which typically have a lower environmental footprint than meat and dairy options.

The day’s cooking sessions were mentored by HSI/UK’s Forward Food chef and renowned food writer Jenny Chandler, resulting in dishes such as oyster mushroom tacos with corn salsa, soba noodles in a rich umami broth topped with crunchy fresh vegetables, and creamy chickpea and butternut squash curry served with flatbreads and onion bhajis. Drawing on her experience of cooking on ships and in remote locations, Jenny advised the chefs on how to create healthy vegan meals even when working in small kitchens with limited equipment, such as in the field or on naval ships at sea.

The chef instructors also tried a variety of new and innovative products from across the plant-based industry at the Plant Futures innovation table, and took home goody bags filled with vegan food products courtesy of Veganuary.

Charlie Huson, HSI/UK’s Forward Food programme manager, said: “Delivering a Forward Food workshop to the chef instructors at Worthy Down was a pleasure. They were keen to learn how to create tasty, healthy plant-based dishes and are now well-placed to pass on this knowledge to their students. With more and more people reducing their consumption of animal products, HSI/UK’s Forward Food programme is equipping chefs with the skills to meet the rising demand for plant-based options. By supporting organisations like the Ministry of Defence – which serves millions of meals to military personnel every week – to put more plants on plates, we can help reduce demand for factory farming and combat climate change.”

Hannah Weller, corporate engagement manager for Veganuary, said: “Veganuary was delighted to have worked closely with Plant Futures and HSI/UK to make this plant-based culinary masterclass happen. The kitchen was filled with energy and creativity as the MOD chef instructors created colourful plant-based dishes, packed full of flavour which were a big hit with the military personnel who got to sample it all. Members of the MOD Veg Network, which joined the Veganuary Workplace Challenge this year, loved the food and are looking forward to seeing more plant-based meals in their mess halls soon! We look forward to working with the MOD further to support them on their plant-based journey.”

Indy Kaur of Plant Futures said: “It is an important moment in food when we see plant-based foods and new cooking techniques start to be integrated across all culinary disciplines. Highlighting the importance plant-based foods play in delivering diversified protein sources, healthy and wholesome nutrition and providing good hearty meals. A momentous occasion as we acknowledge this first of its kind workshop and continuing our conversations. With thanks to the MOD and Veg Network for their enthusiasm and drive to make this event happen along with HSI/UK and Veganuary, a good team effort all round!”

Major Javed Johl RLC, Food Services Training Wing, said: “As diets of choice increase in popularity among the UK public, the Armed Forces must reflect this in our offer to service personnel. Upskilling our Chef Instructors at the Food Services Training Wing is the first step to achieving this. In collaboration with HSI/UK, we have laid the foundations of introducing a healthier and more sustainable diet across the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force.”

Members of the MOD Vegan and Vegetarian Network attended tasting sessions throughout the day, and discussed following a plant-based diet while serving in the military.

It has been widely recognised that on average, animal-based products have higher greenhouse gas emissions than plant-based options. Reducing meat and dairy consumption presents a critical opportunity to decrease both the number of animals suffering on farms and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with animal-derived food.

More than 300 chefs have been trained through HSI’s Forward Food programme in the UK since its launch in 2017. By supporting chefs and catering managers to gain skills and confidence in delivering a variety of high-quality plant-based menu items, HSI/UK is improving the availability of plant-based options across the country and helping people make compassionate culinary choices.

About HSI’s Forward Food programme:

Forward Food is an initiative of Humane Society International, with the aim to encourage and enable the catering industry to shift the focus of menus away from meals centred on animal products and put more plant-based food on plates. Find out more at forwardfooduk.org.


Media contact: Sally Ivens, senior media and communications manager, HSI/UK : sivens@hsi.org ;07590 559299

HSI/UK releases footage of animal suffering on fur farms in China, which exports millions of pounds worth of fur to the UK, renewing calls for a UK import and sales ban

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


LONDON—Heart-wrenching scenes of baby foxes, raccoon dogs and minks suffering on Chinese fur farms have been released by Humane Society International/UK as the animal protection charity renews calls for a ban on UK fur imports and sales. Millions of pounds worth of fur from China is imported into Britain every year, despite the UK having banned fur farming two decades ago on ethical grounds.

HSI’s investigation at nine fur farms in northern China — one of the world’s largest fur producing countries — focuses on a side of the fur trade rarely exposed in investigations, the suffering of babies and their mothers forced to live in cramped, filthy, unnatural conditions. Many of the older animals were found to be exhibiting behaviours signifying psychological distress, such as repetitively pacing their tiny cages. The film also showed a raccoon dog cub struggling to walk on wire mesh floor in a cage, adult foxes peering out from cages barely longer than their body length, and mink circling around in dirty cages, above piles of excrement.

Fur farming has been illegal in the UK since the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Acts came into force in 2003. Despite this, His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs records show that £28,492,281 of fur has been imported to the UK from China in the last five years. HSI/UK is urging the Government to end this double standard by banning imports and sales of fur in the UK.

Claire Bass, senior director of campaigns and public affairs at Humane Society International/UK, said: “HSI’s latest investigation has once again highlighted the inhumane treatment animals suffer as fur fashion victims. The fur trade would prefer that the grim realities of fur farming were out of sight and out of mind, but as a country we owe it to these animals not to turn away, and to stop being complicit in their suffering. Many Britons will be horrified to find out that it is perfectly legal for fur from farms like those we investigated to be sold in Britain. A fur sales ban has the backing of over three quarters of the public, and should be an open goal for this Government to deliver on its ambition to be a world leader in animal welfare.”

National polling carried out in April 2022 revealed that 77% of British citizens think the Government should ban the importation of animal products such as fur, where the production methods are already banned in the UK. The #FurFreeBritain campaign has so far gathered over 1.1 million petition signatures calling on the UK to ban fur imports and sales.

In its Action Plan for Animal Welfare in 2021, the Government stated: “Fur farming has been banned on ethical grounds in England and Wales since 2000, and since 2002 in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Whilst there are existing import restrictions on seal, cat and dog fur, it is still possible to import other fur from abroad, so we will explore potential action in this area.”

In May 2021 the UK Government launched a Call for Evidence on the UK fur trade, with the stated intention of using the findings to inform possible future action. Around 30,000 responses were submitted before the consultation closed in June 2021, but 18 months on, officials are yet to release the results, or set out a policy response.

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Media contact: Sally Ivens: 07590 559299; sivens@hsi.org

Humane Society International/UK celebrates “iconic moment” towards a #FurFreeBritain

Humane Society International / United Kingdom

Raccoon dog and pup
Erik Mandre/Alamy

LONDON—British department store Harvey Nichols has confirmed that it will stop selling fur by the end of 2023, following an investigation into Chinese fur farms by animal protection organisation Humane Society International/UK.

Responding to the news, Claire Bass, senior director of campaigns and public affairs at Humane Society International/UK, said: “Harvey Nichols going fur free is an iconic moment in our campaign for a Fur Free Britain. This world famous British department store has come to the inevitable conclusion that so-called ‘ethical fur’ simply doesn’t exist and fur farming flies in the face of any credible notion of sustainability. Harvey Nichols’ compassionate stance now leaves the handful of remaining retailers that continue to sell fur looking increasingly isolated.”

The news was confirmed today in a statement to The Mirror. When asked if Harvey Nichols will continue to sell fur products, following Humane Society International/UK’s latest investigation footage from fur farms in China, a spokesperson said: “As part of our ongoing review of these practices and continued sustainability initiatives, Harvey Nichols confirms that it will phase out the sale of fur or fur-trimmed products both online and in stores, to be completely fur-free by the end of 2023.” 

The well-known retail chain previously introduced a fur-free policy in 2004, however in 2013 it reneged on this policy and started selling fur products again. As of December 2022, Harvey Nichols was selling fur products from several brands including Yves Solomon, CP Company, Canada Goose, and Moncler. The latter two companies have previously also made commitments to phase-out fur from their designs, with Canada Goose stating they would stop manufacturing fur at the end of 2022, and Moncler stating their last collection using fur will be Autumn/Winter 2023.

HSI/UK wrote to Harvey Nichols in 2022 setting out the many ways in which conditions for animals on fur farms are fundamentally incompatible with the company’s Animal Sourcing Policy, which sets out a commitment to ethical treatment of animals, including ensuring freedom from fear, pain, distress and injury, and freedom to express normal behaviours in sufficient space.

The announcement makes Harvey Nichols the latest in a long line of retailers and designers that have turned their backs on fur in recent years, including Frasers Group, Farfetch, Net-a-Porter, Burberry, Chanel and Prada. The announcement signifies the accelerating decline of the fur trade and adds further pressure to the few remaining fashion brands that continue to sell fur to follow suit.   

Humane Society International/UK works to end the fur trade globally and leads the #FurFreeBritain campaign for a UK fur imports and sales ban. 


Media contact: Sally Ivens: 07590 559299; sivens@hsi.org

Ricky Gervais and Pete Wicks lend their support to Fur Free Britain campaign as Humane Society International/UK and FOUR PAWS UK launch new investigation and report exposing cruelty of global fur trade

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


LONDON—Politicians, celebrities and campaigners gathered in Parliament today to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the UK becoming the first country to ban fur farming, and to urge the UK Government to ‘finish the job’ by banning fur imports and sales. The Only Way Is Essex star Pete Wicks attended and spoke about his previous visit to fur farms, and a new video message in support of the #FurFreeBritain campaign from comedian and actor Ricky Gervais was shown.

Two decades after the last fur farm closed down, the UK continues to allow imports of fur from animals farmed and trapped overseas, creating an unacceptable double-standard. If fur is too cruel to produce here, it is too cruel to sell here, argue the campaigners.

With the support of 35 cross-party MPs, including Elliott Coburn, Maria Eagle, Baroness Jenny Jones and Dr Lisa Cameron who attended a Parliamentary reception sponsored by Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) Daniel Zeichner MP in the House of Commons today, FOUR PAWS UK released a new report demonstrating the scale of abuse inherent in the trade and the role the UK continues to play in this cruelty. Attendees watched footage from Humane Society International/UK’s new investigation, undertaken on multiple fur farms in China, revealing the extreme suffering endured by raccoon dogs, mink and foxes for fur fashion. The shocking scenes showed baby animals kept in filthy, barren conditions, with many of the older animals found to be exhibiting signs of mental distress such as pacing and circling their tiny cages.

TOWIE star Pete Wicks was at the event supporting the call for a #FurFreeBritain. Reflecting on his experience of visiting Finnish fur farms with HSI/UK, Pete said: “Nothing can prepare you for how truly awful the fur trade is for these poor animals. We saw dead animals lying in the cages, fox cubs’ tiny paws falling through the wire mesh floor, and even one mink with a head wound being eaten alive by his cage mates. Looking into the eyes of these desperate animals, knowing that they were suffering simply to end up as a bobble on a hat, or a trim on a coat was so shocking. And to know that they could easily be killed for fur that ends up being sold in UK shops, was really upsetting. We simply cannot call ourselves a nation of animal lovers for as long as this cruelty is still being imported here, and while it’s still legal for it to be sold in our shops.”

In a video message, Ricky Gervais said: “The UK was the first country in the world to ban cruel fur farming, but 20 years later, the UK still has blood on its hands by importing fur from overseas. My message to the UK government is simple – end this double standard and BAN fur imports.”

There is strong public backing for a fur sales ban, with over 1.1 million signatures collected to date in support of a #FurFreeBritain. An April 2022 poll revealed 77% of British voters think the UK Government should ban the importation of animal products such as fur, where production methods are already banned in the country. The Government ran a consultation on the UK fur trade in May 2021 which amassed 30,000 responses, but has still not released the results.

Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) Daniel Zeichner: “Twenty years ago this month, the then Labour Government shut down the last UK fur farms for good when the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Act came into force. However, 20 years on, despite the UK’s strong and unequivocal ethical stand against fur, we are now outsourcing our cruelty overseas. A Labour Government would take action on this double standard and deliver a fur free Britain.”

Elliot Colburn, MP for Carshalton and Wallington said: “The British public rightly has high expectations that the government will deliver promised improvements in the laws that protect animals, and it’s important that we set high standards for the products that we allow to be imported and sold here. We rightly banned fur farming across the UK because it’s so cruel, and now we have the opportunity to lead the way again by banning fur sales, as California has done. The Government has already gathered 30,000 responses in its call for evidence on the UK fur trade, I look forward to seeing the results, which will undoubtedly help inform and underpin a strong policy position.”

Claire Bass, senior director of campaigns and public affairs at Humane Society International/UK, said: “Action on banning the UK’s trade in fur, and other hugely popular and promised animal welfare legislation, has been kicked into the long grass since last summer, and we urge Rishi Sunak and Therese Coffey to get back on track to deliver the Government’s much-applauded Action Plan for Animal Welfare. As politicians and the public start looking at what might be on the menu in manifestos for the next election, committing to ban the cruel and unnecessary fur trade is a wide open goal for all political parties, and we’re delighted with the strong cross-party support for the campaign. The future of fashion is fur free so the sooner we stop trading in cruelty the sooner the suffering overseas stops.”

Sonul Badiani-Hamment, FOUR PAWS UK country director, said: “Globally, the UK is lagging behind and propping up a dying industry. In 2021 Israel became the world’s first country to prohibit the sale of fur and 12 US towns and states have also banned fur sales. And it’s not just governments taking action; from the runways to the high street, the fashion industry has been leading the way for decades, with retailers and consumers alike shunning the cruel and exploitative fur trade. As we mark two decades since fur farming was banned in the UK, it is high time we fully address the UK’s role in what is left of the fur trade and stop importing and exporting cruelty for good. Only by embracing a Fur Free Britain can we help save the lives of millions of animals who are needlessly killed for this abhorrent trade.”

The Parliamentary reception coincided with the launch of an official e-petition calling on the Government to ban the import and sale of fur from all species.


Media contact: Sally Ivens: 07590 559299; sivens@hsi.org

The UK has imported more than £16million of fur from Finland since 2000

Humane Society International / United Kingdom

Oikeutta eläimille

LONDON—Shocking footage showing fur-farmed foxes in Finland with weeping and swollen infected eyes and ears; injured and bloodied tails; and deformed, splayed feet has been released by animal protection groups Oikeutta eläimille and Humane Society International/UK. The footage also shows obese “monster foxes” with huge skin folds from selective breeding; and baby foxes cannibalising their dead siblings.

The footage exposes the suffering of animals for fur fashion, even in a country like Finland where the fur trade boasts that almost 100% of fox fur farms are certified by the fur trade’s SAGA Furs assurance scheme. The scheme promises “the highest level of animal welfare”, but the atrocious conditions documented show a different story. Fox fur originating from Finland is used by brands including Fendi, Yves Salomon, Woolrich, Herno, Ermanno Scervino and Max Mara, and is seen in stores including Harrods and Harvey Nichols.

The exposé comes as more than 1.2 million EU citizens so far have signed the EU-wide “Fur-Free Europe” European Citizens’ Initiative petition calling on the European Commission to ban the farming and sale of fur in the EU. The shocking footage also shines a spotlight on the UK’s fur trading double standard because since banning fur farming in 2000, the UK has imported more than £16million of fur from Finland.

Through its #FurFreeBritain campaign, HSI/UK is urging the government to end this by banning UK fur imports, a move supported by 77% of the British public. A petition calling for a ban on the sale and import of fur in Britain currently stands at over 1.1million signatures.

Claire Bass, senior director of public affairs at Humane Society International/UK, said: “The suffering that millions of animals endure on fur farms, spending their entire lives in tiny barren cages, is heart breaking. Pus oozing sores, mental breakdown, and cannibalism are the reality of fur farming, and a million miles away from the glossy PR the fur trade tries to sell with its assurance schemes. The UK must stop providing a market for the fur from appallingly treated animals like these, and high-end department stores like Harrods that still sell fur should recognise that there is no such thing as responsibly-sourced fur.

“In 2021, the UK government ran a consultation on the UK fur trade to which 30,000 people responded, but 18 months later it has still not released the results or set out a policy position. For as long as the UK is part of the global fur trade, we’re complicit in this cruelty. The enormous public support for bans on fur farming and sales in both the EU and UK give politicians an overwhelming mandate to consign this cruel trade to the history books once and for all.”

Finnish animal group Oikeutta eläimille filmed at six randomly selected fur farms in the Ostrobothnia region of western Finland between June and November 2022. OE’s Kristo Muurimo said: “The majority of Finns want to ban keeping animals in barren cages just for their fur, but our politicians have failed to bring an end to the cruelty. An EU-wide ban would help the animals also in other member countries where the greed for money is valued over animal welfare. The UK, which led the way with the first fur farming ban, should certainly not be providing a market for products shamefully derived from the diseased, injured and suffering animals who are languishing in Finland’s fur farms.”

Fur facts:

  • More than 100 million animals are killed for their fur every year worldwide—that is equivalent to three animals dying every second, just for their fur.
  • Fur farming has been banned in 19 European countries (14 of which are EU member states), including the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Slovenia, Luxembourg, Malta, Ireland, Estonia, France, Italy and most recently on 22nd September 2022, Latvia. Political discussions on a ban are also underway in Romania, Lithuania, Spain and Poland. A further two countries (Switzerland and Germany) have implemented such strict regulations that fur farming has effectively ended, and three other countries (Denmark, Sweden, Hungary) have imposed measures that have ended the farming of certain species.
  • An increasing number of fashion designers and retailers are dropping fur cruelty. In the last few years alone, Canada Goose, Oscar de la Renta, Valentino, Gucci, Burberry, Versace, Chanel, Prada and other high-profile brands have announced fur-free policies.
  • The fur trade in Finland is in financial decline, with many fur farms closing down and some fur farmers in Europe diversifying or transitioning to other livelihoods such as solar panels, to secure their future.

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Media contact: Wendy Higgins, director of international media: whiggins@hsi.org

Humane Society International/UK is calling on the UK government to make a #FurFreeBritain a reality in 2023

Humane Society International / United Kingdom

WildMedia/Alamy Stock

LONDON—The UK risks falling behind on animal welfare as California’s ban on fur sales has now officially taken effect, warns animal charity Humane Society International/UK. While fur farming has been banned on ethical grounds across the UK since the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Acts came into force in January 2003, two decades on it is still legal for fur from countries such as Finland and China to be imported and sold here. Using His Majesties’ Revenue and Customs figures and fur auction price data, HSI/UK estimates that the equivalent of around 1.5-2 million animals’ furs are imported annually.

California is the largest sub-national economy in the world and is predicted to soon become the fourth largest global economy. The state’s Gov. Gavin Newsom recently credited its growth on “California’s values and entrepreneurial spirit.” Momentum is also building in Europe as an official European Citizens’ Initiative petition calling for an EU-wide ban on fur farming and the import of fur products has gathered over 1.2 million signatures since it launched in May 2022. By contrast, the UK government has dragged its feet for years on banning fur imports, despite polling showing the overwhelming majority (77%) of the British public think the government should ban the import of products, such as fur, where production methods are already banned in the UK. The campaign for a #FurFreeBritain, led by Humane Society International/UK, has so far amassed more than 1 million petition signatures calling for a UK ban on fur imports and sales, as well as support from more than 80 celebrities.

Claire Bass, senior director of campaigns and public affairs at Humane Society International/UK, said: “When the UK became the first country in the world to ban fur farming, it marked us as a leader in animal protection and paved the way for many countries to follow. But 20 years on, we’re exercising a double standard. While illegal in our own backyard, millions of animals are still suffering in cramped cages overseas for frivolous fur fashion that’s shockingly permitted to be imported and sold in the UK.”

She added: “The Government’s soundbites about being a ‘world leader in animal welfare’ must be called into question when the state of California and 12 cities and towns across America have already banned fur sales, while our Ministers have been sitting on the results of a formal consultation on the UK fur trade for 18 months. Enhanced animal welfare was touted as a ‘Brexit benefit’ by the Government but so far that’s been a hollow promise; at this rate the EU will wash its hands of the disgusting fur trade before the UK does. We urge the Government to turn words into actions and adopt this extremely popular policy to deliver a #FurFreeBritain.”

In May 2021 the UK government launched a Call for Evidence on the UK fur trade, with the stated intention of using the findings to inform possible future action. The consultation closed in June 2021, but the public is still waiting for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to release these findings, despite Ministers confirming they would do so.

California’s new law makes it the first state in the U.S. to take this monumental step to end the fur trade within its borders by banning the sale and manufacturing of new animal fur products. A further 12 US cities and towns have similarly banned fur sales. California’s Assembly Bill 44, which passed in 2019, was championed by Assemblymember Laura Friedman and sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States and Animal Hope in Legislation.

Jenny Berg, California state director for the Humane Society of the United States, said: “We are grateful to California for taking a stand against the cruel fur industry by implementing this statewide ban on the production and sale of new fur products. , especially when humane, environmentally sustainable alternatives exist. We applaud California for leading the fight against fur and sending a powerful message that animals should no longer suffer and die for fashion.”

Assemblymember Laura Friedman commented: “Today marks a historic step forward for California with the implementation of a law that truly represents the values of our constituents. Californians do not want to see animals live and die in cruel ways for nothing more than fashion, and I’m so pleased that this law will help uphold our state’s animal welfare standards as well as potentially help drive innovation for more sustainable fashion alternatives.”

Before the bill’s passage, four municipalities in California – Los Angeles (2018), San Francisco (2018), Berkeley (2017) and West Hollywood (2013) – passed similar legislation, paving the way for a state-wide ban. In 2021, Israel became the first country to ban fur sales.


  • More than 100 million animals are killed for their fur every year worldwide. The vast majority (around 95%) of these spend their entire lives confined in small, barren cages unable to act out their most basic behaviours such as running, digging and, in the case of mink, swimming.
  • The UK was the first country in the world to ban fur farming and 18 other European countries have now followed suit, including Ireland, France, Italy and most recently in September 2022, Latvia.
  • California’s ban applies to brick-and-mortar stores selling new fur products as well as online sales of fur products into the state.
  • In addition to California, similar bans have also passed in the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and West Hollywood, and the towns of Brookline, Weston, Wellesley, Cambridge and Plymouth in Massachusetts, Ann Arbor in Michigan, Boulder in Colorado and Hallandale Beach in Florida.


Media contact: Sally Ivens: 07590 559299; sivens@hsi.org

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