The Fur is Flying as California Extremists Move For a Statewide Ban
Los Angeles made headlines when it became the largest U.S. city to ban the production and sale of animal fur. Activists are now trying to do the same statewide citing animal welfare as the chief driver.
Some in California seem to think that prohibition worked so well for alcohol and then drugs that we should now try it on fur. Animal activists are strongly supporting Assembly Bill 44 which would ban fur sales and manufacture in California. Those involved in the fur industry believe this would be government overreach. If the bill becomes law, first-time violators would pay $500 and this could double with each violation. The only exemptions are fur used for Native American cultural practices, religious reasons and used fur.
The author of this bill is Democratic Assemblywoman Laura Friedman. She says voters have consistently voiced that if they buy a product in California that involves animals, they want to know that animal cruelty wasn’t involved. She says there is no need to wear fur in the 21st century due to the availability of other fashionable, warm textiles.
California would be the first state to pass a statewide ban. West Hollywood, San Francisco and Los Angeles already have fun bans in place and New York City and Hawaii are considering proposals.
Animal Activists Have an Agenda
PETA and Direct Action Everywhere are leading organizations that are against the animal fur industry, often targeting clothing brands and conducting undercover investigations. Animal activists say the fur trade is built on cruelty to animals and that the industry is unregulated. Activists crowded the hearing on Friedman’s bill and shared their accounts about cruelty to animals.
Those in the fur industry firmly deny these allegations of cruelty. They believe that if consumers choose to buy fur products from retailers, they should have a right to do so. Bill AB 44 could set the stage for animal rights activists to get their way and eventually result in laws that influence what we wear and eat (no leather shoes, eggs, dairy, meat, etc.)
Negative Consequences of the Bill
Keith Kaplan of the Fur Information Council of America, a trade group representing companies that manufacture and sell fur products, points out that when you impose a ban, you encourage growth among illicit players. It’s those who follow the rules that go out of business. He says banning the sale of fur would simply drive Californian customers out of the state, just as businesses moved to Beverly Hills when West Hollywood banned fur sales.
Kaplan also points out that “faux” fur is often made with synthetic materials that harm the environment. His answer would be to institute a certification program, FurMark, to ensure animal welfare. This would establish monitoring of the supply chain using third-party audits.
Trappers, small family farmers, manufacturers and fur retailers depend on the industry. If this bill is passed, they could lose their livelihoods, jobs and businesses. Those who provide services to furriers would also be affected. Businesses closing down in California would not only affect individuals but entire families and the effect could spread beyond California in a ripple effect.
Fur Farming is Sustainable
Fur farming is a sustainable practice and the products are better for the environment than non-degradable, plastic-based alternatives. Waste that would go to landfills is diverted to feed animals, such as proteins leftover in food processing. The manure is used to fertilize local crops and animal by-products are used in numerous different ways.
The bill comes at a time when the demand for fur still appears to be growing. Part of the demand is being driven by the furniture industry, which is using more fur in chair coverings and other applications than before. Fur retailers say the industry records about $300 million a year in sales in California.
Opponents say if the fur ban becomes California law, they won’t hesitate to challenge the State in court.