Farmer interview: “Animal welfare certifications are vital to the business”

Fur breeders begin their days around the same time fashion devotees are draining the last drops of champagne from their glasses at new-collection after parties. It’s a way of life. For the breeder it demands devotion to animal welfare, the most important element in producing luxury fur of sublime quality.

The thing is – you really need to love animals and what you do. If a water pipe freezes during a cold Finnish winter night, it’s you and your family members who will be heating it manually, so the animals get fresh drinking water. If birth doesn’t go as planned, it’s the same family members who are there to take the cubs to the incubator. Caring for animals became naturally encoded in Finnish fur breeders’ ethics through generations.

Caring for animals became naturally encoded in Finnish fur breeders’ ethics through generations.

In building a heritage brand, Saga Furs has been successful in spreading these same ethical practices to suppliers abroad. Now that WelFur assessment is inside Saga Certification, another advancement has been added to pioneering efforts based on our strict code of ethics.

“The end consumer has a lot of choice and therefore also has the power. If we are not adequately listening to the end user, there is a risk the consumer will switch to inferior alternative products and, as a result, the whole business environment will suffer,” says Jari Isosaari, who owns one of the first certified farms in Finland.

 

Saga Certification increases the transparency demanded by the consumer

Together with veterinarian Liisa Vallenius, Isosaari was asked to help to create a quality system for fur farmers in 1997. What they devised became a quality handbook for Finnish fur breeders. From that document the Saga Certification system was developed and would eventually become the industry model for improving animal welfare.

“As the monitoring systems were set up early in our industry, we have paid attention to the well-being of animals and nature much earlier than many other animal production industries. Certification requirements and clearer tracking have helped farmers to develop their own business. I believe that most farmers agree when I say, that Saga Certification has helped improve the opportunities of the individual farmers and the industry as a whole.”

 

Saga Certification provides the peace of mind designers and consumers want

Buyers at fur auctions, designers, clothing companies and consumers alike have been largely unaware of – or misled about – what goes on at a fur farm or the amount of resources that have gone into refining animal welfare. Saga Furs has been instrumental in spreading awareness. One initiative Saga Furs helped start was inviting the public, and often designers, to view fur farms so the visitors could witness top standards of animal welfare.

 

Coupled with the Saga Traceability System, Saga Certification provides the peace of mind designers and consumers want.

 

Coupled with the Saga Traceability System, Saga Certification provides the peace of mind designers and consumers want. I immediately understood the importance of Certification for our business”, says Isosaari. “In the beginning some farmers were sceptical, as they believed Certification would generate a lot of additional work. Naturally, perceptions have changed since then.”

Over the years, the certification scheme has grown to include altogether 60 criteria. Today, the Saga Certification has WelFur inside.