Fur Commission USA
Activist complaints unfounded. Wisconsin mink farmer exonerated by investigators
No evidence of animal cruelty was found by state authorities and it has been determined there is no reason for charges to be filed, despite complaints lodged by activists after a PETA undercover operative spent 3 months secretly filming a Wisconsin mink farm.
“We take any reports of cruelty or neglect very seriously, because our producers consider animal welfare their highest priority; excellent nutrition and care is vital to producing the high-quality mink that the U.S. is known for around the world,” said Fur Commission executive director Michael Whelan.
“We are very pleased that the authorities have moved very quickly to investigate PETA’s claims and found no evidence of any wrong doing. The Dillenburg family has been raising animals for over 40 years, and this vindication confirms once again that the animals on U.S. mink farms are treated extremely well.”
PETA campaigns against dairy, poultry and other animal production using wildly sensational claims and images to unfairly attack hard-working and compassionate American farm families. It is important to understand that PETA is not looking to improve animal agriculture, they seek to end it completely. PETA opposes any use of animals for food, life-saving medical research or even as pets.
Fur Commission USA is a national, not-for-profit industry association representing the US mink farmers. The value of US mink production topped $300 million last year.
Defendants drove 40,000 miles to release thousands of mink from farms in Iowa, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota and elsewhere
SAN DIEGO – Animal-rights activists Joseph Buddenberg and Nicole Kissane were arrested by the FBI today and charged with terrorizing the fur industry during cross-country road trips in which they released thousands of mink from farms around the country and vandalized various properties.
According to a federal grand jury indictment unsealed today, Buddenberg and Kissane caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage during the nationwide spree in the summer of 2013. The indictment alleges that the pair snuck onto farms and freed minks and destroyed breeding records in Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania during multiple trips, and in one case they released a bobcat from a farm in Montana.
The defendants were charged under the Conspiracy to Violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. They were arrested in Oakland this morning by agents from the FBI’s San Francisco field office. The government will seek the removal of Buddenberg and Kissane to the Southern District of California to face charges.
In one instance described in the indictment, the defendants traveled from Oregon to San Diego in their 2012 Honda Fit on July 15, 2013 and used paint, paint stripper, a super glue-type substance, butyric acid, muriatic acid and glass etchant to vandalize Furs by Graf, a retail furrier located in San Diego, as well as the Spring Valley and La Mesa residences and personal property of the current and former owners of the business.
To publicize their crimes, the defendants drafted “communiqués” describing their conduct and posted them on websites associated with animal rights extremists, the indictment said.
Among some of the incidents of vandalism cited in the indictment: The defendants slashed tires of a meat distributor’s truck in San Francisco; smashed windows and glued the door locks at a furrier business in Minneapolis, Minnesota; vandalized and attempted to flood the Sun Prairie, Wisconsin home of an employee of the North American Fur Auctions.
According to the indictment, the unemployed defendants sold items on eBay and Amazon to finance their trips. To avoid detection by law enforcement, the defendants withdrew large sums of cash from their bank accounts immediately before setting off on a road trip. During the trips, they largely avoided the use of phones, used only cash for purchases and stopped logging in to known online accounts and email. Instead, they used public internet computers and encrypted email.
Once they returned from the trips, they resumed normal use of phones and computers and no longer relied solely on cash to make purchases.
“Whatever your feelings about the fur industry, there are legal ways to make your opinions known,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “The conduct alleged here, sneaking around at night, stealing property and vandalizing homes and businesses with acid, glue, and chemicals, is a form of domestic terrorism and can’t be permitted to continue.”
“Today’s indictment represents the collective efforts of several FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF) around the country,” said Eric S. Birnbaum, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s San Diego Field Office. “The FBI and our JTTF partners will continue to investigate and seek the prosecution of those who engage in similar criminal conduct for the purpose of advancing their own personal agenda.”
Indictment Document (335.58 KB)
Joseph Brian Buddenberg Age: 31 Oakland, CA
Nicole Juanita Kissane Age: 28 Oakland, CA
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Conspiracy to Violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 43 (a) (1), (2) (c) and (b) (3) (A) Maximum penalty: Ten years in prison and $250,000 fine
Federal Bureau of Investigation, San Francisco and San Diego Field Offices
Joint Terrorism Task Force
For Further Information, Contact:
Assistant U.S. Attorneys
John Parmley (619) 546-7957 or Michael Kaplan (619) 546-7927
*The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty
The 2015 Mink Production Report was just released this past July 24. The report by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, reveals that both domestic mink prices and production numbers are steadily rising. Production of pelts raised in 2014 for sale this year increased by 6 percent to 3.76 million pelts. The average price per pelt, at $57.70 was up $1.40 from the prior year. For the complete report click here. For information on production trends going back over 40 years, visit our Statistics Central page here.
The International Fur Federation (IFF) has developed a global fashion campaign to communicate the modern face of fur and to break down stereotypes around what fur is and who wears it.
The mainly digital push named #FURNOW, includes social media, blogger outreach, video, mobile and gifs designed with a view to go viral. The campaign also includes print media targeting leading fashion titles in key global markets. The focus on digital communications represents a significant departure for the industry which has tended to rely on traditional above the line media.
The campaign is built around images of men and women wearing beautiful, contemporary fur items in eye- catching, sometimes surprising ways, all designed for sharing online. Fur is a key trend in the 2014 autumn/winter collections and the campaign channels this ‘right for now’ zeitgeist.
Sitting at the heart of the drive is a high energy, fast-paced one minute video showing a collection of diverse fur looks in bright colors on male and female models dancing to Para One feat Jaw – When the Night. The video opens with a model wearing large black fur headphones, followed by a shot of a fur-trimmed clutch bag that quickly switches to a purple hooded jacket. Other unusual fur items include a fur baseball outfit including fur epaulettes, kneepads and glove; a male dancer wearing fur slippers and matching cuffs; a model sporting a pair of iconic fur lined glasses and a bearded hipster with a fur parka and fur-trimmed pipe. The video closes with a sequence of shots with the campaign title, ‘Fur Now’ on different colored fur backgrounds.
Two of the most influential fashion bloggers behind the scene on the day of the shoot, Bryan Boy (www.bryanboy.com) and Gala Gonzalez (www.amlul.com) used their social media platforms to push out comments and pictures of their experience to generate interest in the campaign and fur more broadly amongst their huge audience of followers. Just one ‘selfie’ posted by Bryan Boy wearing a purple hooded Kenzo jacket used in the shoot generated 7,678 likes. IFF also saw over three million impressions of the hashtag #furnow during the two days of the shoot and generated over 50,000 likes on instagram over the same period.
The media plan, which is predominantly digital, mobile and social, includes Conde Nast’s Vogue Italy website; Style.com – including a home page takeover and sponsorship of its weekly newsletter; and Vogue US mobile. The video will also run on YouTube.
Commenting on the campaign, Mark Oaten, CEO, IFF said: “In recent times, fur has changed beyond belief. New techniques and innovations have brought bright colors and lighter garments that appeal to consumers young and old, male and female. Our campaign aims to communicate this contemporary face of fur in a fun, upbeat way.
“Communicating this new face of fur required a radical rethink of the type of campaign approach we chose. This is why for the first time we have gone firmly down the digital/social media route. The luxury sector has traditionally been slow to this type of media, and fur has perhaps been later to the party than many in this space. However the share-able, viral and conversational nature of digital and social media means it is the best choice to communicate the new and modern face of fur and to generate global buzz and interest in the way fur is evolving.”
Okay, this research might make animal rights activists wince! Making babies sleep on animal fur in their first three months of infancy can potentially reduce the risk of asthma in childhood.
According to a study finding, exposure to the microbial environment in animal skin and fur might act as a shield against asthma and allergies.
Researchers analyzed data from a German birth cohort called Lisaplus. The cohort included over 3,000 healthy newborns that were mostly recruited in 1998.
The team examined the exposure of the newborns to animal skin during the first three months of life. They also assessed the information on the health of children until the age of 10 years. Researchers took information of 2,441 children into account and noted that 55 percent of these included sleeping on animal skin in the first three months of life.
The analysis showed that sleeping on animal skin reduced the risk of a number of factors associated with asthma. The team found that the risk of developing asthma at the age of 6 years was 79 percent less in children who slept on animal skin after birth. Moreover, the risk decreased to 41 percent as children reached the age of 10.
“Previous studies have suggested that microbes found in rural settings can protect from asthma. An animal skin might also be a reservoir for various kinds of microbes, following similar mechanisms as has been observed in rural environments. Our findings have confirmed that it is crucial to study further the actual microbial environment within the animal fur to confirm this association,” said Dr Christina Tischer, from the Helmholtz Zentrum München Research Centre.
The findings of the research were presented at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) International Congress in Munich.
The USDA has released its mink production report for 2013 and once again Wisconsin leads the nation. See the full report here for each year, going back to 1970
According to a new study, the global fur trade has now been valued at more than $40 Billion worldwide – roughly the same as the global Wi-Fi industry.
The research is the first to analyze the highly fragmented fur sector, looking beyond retail sales at the immense worldwide economic value of fur farming and production – which have historically been very difficult to measure. The study revealed that global fur retail sales are estimated at $35.8 Billion, farming is valued at $7.8 Billion and total employment in the sector at over 1 million.
The data comes from an independent study into the value of the fur industry, commissioned by the trade association International Fur Federation (IFF), and carried out in 2012-13 by Price-Waterhouse Cooper Italy. In countries such as Greece, Russia, China and Denmark, fur is a leading contributor to the national economy and employs tens of thousands of people.
Mark Oaten, CEO of IFF, comments: “These figures, unveiled for the first time, show that it’s been a great couple of years for the industry. While of course there have been challenges, such as the recent economic slowdown in China and the fluctuating price of fur at auction, the recent cold weather in America and its increasing popularity on catwalks globally has once again thrown our sector into the spotlight.
“This study demonstrates the unquestionable value the fur trade brings to the global economy. It’s easy to get caught up in the emotions the business can generate, but the truth is that the fur trade is an economic cornerstone in Europe and beyond. Much of the fashion and increasingly the soft furnishings world relies on fur – and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.”
About the IFF
The International Fur Federation was founded over 60 years ago and represents 42 national fur trade associations and 35 organizations. Members are drawn from the entire supply chain: from farmers and trappers, to designers and sales and marketing organizations. The IFF protects the interests of the fur sector, upholding the regulation on the welfare of all animal species, farmed or not, through accurate scientific research. It furthermore guarantees that it does not trade in endangered species.
Dutch News: Fur farmers celebrate as court throws out ban on mink farming
Wednesday 21 May 2014
A court in The Hague on Wednesday overturned a new law to ban breeding animals for fur from 2024.
The law will have a ‘serious financial impact’ on breeders and it is totally unclear if they will be given proper compensation, the judges said in their verdict.
The legislation to phase out fur farming was passed by the senate at the end of 2012, three years after it was agreed by the lower house.
Five million pelts
Fur farmers described the decision as ‘historic’, saying the ban would have meant the end of an economically successful sector, news agency ANP reports.
The Netherlands has some 160 fur farms producing five million pelts a year. The sector employs some 1,400 people.
The Netherlands is the third biggest fur farming nation in the world behind Denmark and China.
Junior economic affairs minister Sharon Dijksma said she will appeal against the court decision.
However, D66 parliamentarian Gerard Schouw called on Dijksma to revise the decision and take the courts comments on compensation for farmers into account.
Earlier, researchers at Wageningen University said the the cost of the ban would be €651m.
Animal rights groups said they were very disappointed at the court ruling.
‘It has been clear to breeders for years that a ban was in the offing,’ said a spokesman for animal protection group Dierenbescherming. ‘It would be awful for animals if the ban now takes even longer.’
– See more at: http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2014/05/fur_farmers_celebrate_as_court.php#sthash.ZYJ57vHQ.dpuf
By HELENA BOTTEMILLER EVICH | Politico
4/16/14 12:05 AM EDT
Expired marshmallows, broken crackers, stale donuts, even orange peels are among the billions of pounds of would-be waste that help feed livestock every year.
By regularly diverting its waste in this way, the food industry prevents millions of tons of greenhouse gases from being released into the atmosphere, but an obscure proposal under a 2011 food safety overhaul could inadvertently send much of the reusable food back to landfills.
Food manufacturers send the vast majority of their waste to be turned into animal feed, which many view as a significant achievement considering that more than 30 percent of all food in the United States is thrown away. But the Food and Drug Administration has proposed placing new sanitation and record-keeping requirements on feed production that could increase compliance costs and paperwork — mandates that many in the industry and on Capitol Hill warn could make it too expensive for businesses to continue recycling.
“World food needs are going to increase dramatically,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), ranking member of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, said at a recent hearing on the FDA’s budget.
Blunt urged FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to revise the proposed animal feed rule, which was required under the Food Safety Modernization Act, to give more consideration to food byproducts used in feed.
“Normally, we’d think about how we need to produce more food, but [we also need to] more effectively use the food and food products we have,” Blunt said, adding, “I think this is a big issue.”
The Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents more than 300 top food companies and supports the food safety overhaul broadly, is raising alarm about the feed proposal. The group has said the FDA’s approach would be costly, bad for the environment and provide little or no food safety benefit.
“Of course, our members do not want to use landfills except as a last resort, but they may have no other option if compliance costs are too high,” the group said in 88-pages of comments on the proposed regulation. Tonnage sent to landfills “could drastically increase,” the group warned.
Food manufacturers kept about 44 billion pounds of food waste out of landfills in 2011, including such discards as French fry potato peels and granola bar trimmings, according to data compiled by the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, a collaboration between GMA, the Food Marketing Institute and the National Restaurant Association.
In its own economic analysis, GMA has estimated that nearly 70 percent of the waste stream from food manufacturers goes into animal feed and only 5 percent is dumped in landfills. The bulk of the remaining waste is composted or applied to land.
Those numbers would change dramatically if the FDA proposal becomes law, the group said. The proposed regulation would require manufacturers to create food safety plans for all of the byproducts going into feed, a potentially costly mandate that would likely prompt companies to divert as little as 22 percent of their food waste to feed and almost 28 percent to landfills in order to save money and avoid the hassle, GMA estimated.
Overall, the rule would cost food manufacturers about $444 million a year, GMA said, which is more than three times what the FDA estimated for the human, livestock and pet food industries combined. That includes $100 million in lost revenue from animal feed buyers and $344 million in increased landfill and compost fees.
In environmental terms, carbon dioxide emissions would increase by 4.7 million metric tons annually — the equivalent of adding about a million passenger cars to the roads, the group said.
“It is bad public policy for FDA to put companies in the situation of having to decide whether to incur significant expenditures for compliance, with minimal, if any, augmentation to the health of humans or animals, or to engage in a practice that it known to be environmentally unsustainable,” GMA said in its comments on the rule.
The industry group has asked the FDA to overhaul its proposal and cost-benefit analysis and conduct an environmental impact assessment, which the agency has argued isn’t necessary. The FDA’s analysis found that the proposal would provide “potential improvements” to public health by reducing contamination in animal feed and the animal products that people consume, but the agency did not provide figures and said it is “unable to quantify the benefits of the proposed rule.”
David Plunkett, a senior attorney at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said he believes it’s unlikely companies will divert their food to landfills and that such concerns are overblown.
“Trade associations have the job of constructing the ‘worst case scenario’ to minimize the impact of regulations, but the reality is often very different,” Plunkett said. “Companies are accustomed to [hazard control] plans for food safety, and it is unlikely that pet food and animal feed are going to disappear into landfills simply because of this rule’s minimal requirement to practice safety and keep good records.”
Responding to pushback on several of its food safety proposals, the FDA announced in March that it plans to issue “revised language” for the feed rule, and top officials have said that they’re committed to finding a practical solution to food waste concerns.
At the recent Senate appropriations hearing, Commissioner Hamburg told Sen. Blunt that she has brought the waste issue to the attention of her team.
“We want to support sustainable agriculture practices,” Hamburg said. “It makes enormous sense. We do believe this can be addressed in a practical, sensible way.”
Meanwhile, the EPA has developed a “food recovery hierarchy” to guide food waste policy. Its top priority, aside from reducing waste, is to feed hungry people and, after that, to feed animals.
ConAgra Foods, which owns such popular brands as Chef Boyardee and Reddi-wip, used the EPA recommendations to develop its waste-reduction strategy, Gail Tavill, the company’s vice president for sustainable development.
“Our strategy was really to move up that value hierarchy,” Tavill said. “Feeding animals, for us, is a huge part of our strategy.”
Tavill pointed to shelf-stable pudding as a key example. Typically, the company will produce some initial batches of pudding cups to ensure the process is sterile before making cups to ship to consumers.
“For many years, those finished cups were going into the landfill,” Tavill said. But then ConAgra Foods started working with another company that could separate the pudding from the cups to use in poultry feed and recover energy from the plastic. Cost was not a significant factor in pursuing this relationship, she said. While it did deliver a small savings, the real driver was working toward keeping valuable materials out of landfills. Today, ConAgra Foods diverts about 87 percent of its total food waste stream to animal feed, she said.
Tavill expressed concern that FDA’s proposal will prompt companies to discontinue their recycling efforts. Compliance will be especially difficult for manufacturers who handle multiple products or those with a lot of ingredients, such as soup and pot pies, she said.
“[The regulations] are pretty prescriptive,” Tavill said. “What is the problem that the rule is trying to solve? Where’s the risk that they’re trying to solve? … Is the effort to comply with the requirements equal to the risk?”
Dozens of other companies also are expected to weigh in on the proposed feed rule. Food giant Cargill told POLITICO that it supports the food safety law, but “believes that the regulation should have some flexibility due to the broad nature of the animal food, feed and ingredient space.”
Despite the problem that food waste presents, recycling hasn’t attracted as much high-profile attention in the United States as it has in other countries. In the United Kingdom, for example, celebrities advocate feeding discarded food to pigs under a campaign dubbed “The Pig Idea.”
Taking a cue from across the pond, the Agriculture Department and EPA launched the less-cleverly titled U.S. Food Waste Challenge this past summer to raise awareness of the need for more recycling.
“The food industry in general is starting to pay more attention to the waste stream and find ways to capture value from what they previously threw away,” said Jonathan Bloom, author of the food-waste treatise “American Wasteland.” “As the cost savings become clear, more and more companies are looking at it,” he said.
Consumer awareness of the issue is also growing, he said.
“People are becoming increasingly interested in where their food comes from, and a natural offshoot of that is to ask, ‘Where does it go when we’re done with it or when we don’t use it?’”
Mink prices soared to historic heights at the season’s first North American sale in Toronto, in what was described as the biggest mink offering in North American history. Chinese and Russian buyers spearheaded the demand, in order to satisfy the still-growing appetites of people back home. The February sale at North American Fur Auctions attracted over 700 buyers, its biggest attendance ever, and at times it was standing room only.
The bidding was spirited, sending prices to historic highs for North American mink, fully 20% over the same sale last year, according to the company. Buyers agreed, calling prices firm to the record levels achieved elsewhere for comparable goods. Hong Kong/China, as expected, was the dominant buyer throughout, with strong support from Greece, Russia and Korea. Chinese buyers, whose ranks have been growing at each successive auction on both sides of the Atlantic for several years – in line with the expansion of their domestic market at the manufacturing and retail levels – quickly dominated the action.
This also was the biggest-ever offering of mink at a North American sale, some 3.9 million pelts, including international goods. The entire collection was snapped up at strong prices, attesting to the demand at the retail level, particularly in China.