Smaller Russian market, over-production and regulation compliance affecting mink industry

Carla Allen
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The mink industry has seen good times and not so good times.

SOUTHWESTERN N.S. – What are factors for the decline in the mink industry?

Information from several industry-related sources shows that the biggest factor behind the decline in pelt price is Russia’s devaluation of the ruble, along with international sanctions. 

Without Russia consuming 15-plus million mink pelts a year, there is world overproduction of mink.

China is the major purchaser of European and North American ranch mink, but the high American dollar has slowed the Chinese economy. In addition, the Chinese clampdown on tariffs and imports, and certain retail regions experiencing some warmer winter weather, are factors. There has also been a big surge over the years in domestic Chinese mink production. 

 “If Russia was able to buy fur like normal and production was perhaps 60 million, instead of 80 million, we would probably not be in this situation,” says Dan Mullen, former president of the Nova Scotia Mink Breeders Association.

He says the decline is not due to the unpopularity of fur. Major fashion fur designers continue to use fur in their collections.

READ ALSO: Mink ranchers struggling to survive as pelt prices plummet

He adds that the cost of complying with Nova Scotia’s fur industry regulations, (revised provincial regulations focusing on environmental management of fur farms) and the updated Humane Care Code for Mink has cost farmers millions. 

As of mid-February, 93 out of 112 farms were in compliance with act, he says. Only a small number of farms remained (about 19) that were not yet meeting the new regulations.

New regulations were brought in years ago, in part to address a lot of concern in southwestern Nova Scotia over the impact of mink farming on local lakes. Many people blame the mink industry for instances of blue-green algae in lakes, which people say has lowered property values and decreased or eliminated recreational offerings from lakes.

The province says the regulations that were imposed – which followed consultation with the public and the industry – "focus on environmental management of fur farms that will ensure the industry is both an economic contributor to the province and an environmentally responsible neighbour."

In addition to all of this, Mullen says farmers have also increased herd size over the past five years to improve economies of scale and to capitalize on high market prices. That’s resulted in high levels of capital investments in the industry and not many cash reserves.

The Aleutian Disease problem over the last 20 years has also been costly, but the industry has transitioned quickly over the past five years to an Aleutian Disease-tolerant mink.

Aleutian Disease is a highly contagious parvovirus that can cause death in minks.

The industry was about to turn the corner, only to be faced with a dramatic downturn in prices, says Mullen.


Organizations: North American, Nova Scotia Mink Breeders Association

Geographic location: Russia, Nova Scotia, China

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