SACRAMENTO, California —On January 1, California’s ban on the sale and manufacturing of new animal fur products takes effect across the state. Assembly Bill 44, which passed in 2019, makes California the first state in the country to take this monumental step to end the fur trade within its borders. Assemblymember Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, championed the legislation, which was sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States and Animal Hope in Legislation. The bill gained enormous support from local, national and international animal protection organizations.
“The year 2023 marks a historic step forward for California with the implementation of a law that truly represents the values of our constituents,” said Assemblymember Friedman. “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.”
“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,” said Jenny Berg, California state director for the Humane Society of the United States. “The fact that around 100 million animals are still raised and killed in fur factory farms for nothing more than a fur coat, hat or other product is archaic, 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.”
Before the bill’s passage, four municipalities in California—Los Angeles (2018), San Francisco (2018), Berkeley (2017) and West Hollywood (2013)—passed similar measures, paving the way for Assembly Bill 44. To date, 12 cities across the U.S.—including five in Massachusetts—have passed laws phasing out new fur sales, and in 2021, Israel became the first country to end fur sales.
According to 2017 Economic Census, U.S. retail sales of fur garments totaled just over $574 million, with most sales occurring in California at just under $129 million, followed by New York with almost $115 million. Together, California and New York made up nearly 43% of all fur sales in the country in 2017.
Several fur-free policies from fashion brands and retailers coincide with the bill’s effective date. Canada Goose, Kering, Saks Fifth Avenue, Zegna Group, Rudsak, Mytheresa and Moose Knuckles all pledged to go fur-free by the end of 2022. Neiman Marcus will eliminate fur products by March 2023.
- The law bans only the sale of new fur products and does not apply to the sale of used fur products sold at nonprofit thrift stores, secondhand stores and pawn shops. It does not apply to other animal products used for clothing such as leather or shearling.
- The law does not impact ownership of fur products and it remains legal to wear fur.
- The law applies to brick-and-mortar stores selling fur products in California as well as online sales of fur products into California.
- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the California Attorney General’s office, and local law enforcement all share enforcement authority under the law. Californians can contact any of these offices with information about new fur being sold. First time penalties are $500, second time penalties are $750, and any further violations are $1,000.
- Nearly 20 countries throughout Europe have already banned fur farming, and there is currently an effort by Humane Society International and other groups to gather signatures in support of a “Fur-Free Europe” European Citizens’ Initiative asking for a ban on fur farming and placing fur farmed products on the European marketplace. Although the petition has already gathered the necessary 1 million signatures needed by May 2023 for the European Commission to issue a formal response, it remains open to collect additional signatures and citizens of the European Union are encouraged to sign it here.
- Emily Snow Ehrhorn