Ben Weyts, minister for animal welfare in the Flemish government, has had a letter from a well-wisher – none other than Baywatch star Pamela Anderson. Anderson, an animal rights activist, was writing to congratulate Weyts and the Flemish government on their decision to ban the raising of animals for fur and for force-feeding. Fur farming is already banned in Wallonia and Brussels region, although neither had any fur farming facilities at the time of the ban.
The Flemish government decided in July last year to introduce a ban on the two activities, and last week the measure reached the end of its legislative journey by being approved by the Flemish parliament.
“I am delighted to hear from my friends at GAIA and PETA that the Flemish government has decided to ban fur farming as well as the cruel practice of force feeding for the production of foie gras,” Anderson wrote in the letter. “This is really excellent news for the hundreds of thousands of defenceless animals that have been the victims of a ruthless industry for such a long time. I salute your lasting efforts, as well as the ethical considerations of the Flemish government. In doing so Belgium will become a fur farming free country, an example for governments and a source of inspiration for countless animal rights advocates around the world, dedicated to a cruelty free society. On behalf of the animals, thank you Flanders, thank you Belgium.”
Earlier this month animal welfare ministers from the three Belgian regions – Weyts, Bianca Debaets for Brussels and Carlo di Antonio for Wallonia – expressed their opposition to a proposed new European reference centre for the welfare of animals raised for their fur. The centre, proposed by the EU Commission, was described by Michel Vandenbosch, president of Gaia in Belgium, as “in reality a promotion centre for the fur industry”. The opposition from the three regional ministers now sees Belgium join with seven other EU member states – Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the UK and Slovenia – in opposing the proposal.