The U.S. mink industry is in rapid decline, with the drop beginning well before coronavirus outbreaks on mink fur farms here and overseas renewed concerns over this outmoded and cruel industry that’s responsible for so much animal suffering.
Last year was the industry’s worst on record, according to data in a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report. The value of all mink pelts produced fell to $59.2 million, the lowest since the USDA started recording such data in 1975. That’s nearly $10 million less than the previous lowest year, 1992, when production value was $69 million. Prices for mink pelts also fell, tying for the second lowest on record.
Overall, there has been a nearly 50% decline in the value of fur apparel imported into the United States this year, compared to last year (which was also a low year), according to data from the United Nations International Trade Statistics Database (UN Comtrade) and the US Census Bureau. Global fur auctions, which are still happening virtually in countries like Denmark and Finland, are only selling a small percentage of the pelts that are on offer, and the North American Fur Auction, one of the last remaining fur auctions in North America, lost its lender and declared bankruptcy last year.
These are heartening trends, and they emphasize the sharp drop in fur’s popularity as more and more consumers, fashion icons and businesses turn away from this cruel product. And now, with the coronavirus affecting mink fur farms in many countries, including the United States, conditions for the industry are very likely to get a whole lot worse.
Earlier this week, the USDA reported coronavirus outbreaks on two mink fur farms in Utah, with infections reported both among the animals and people who had contact with them. In the Netherlands, more than 1.7 million mink, most newborn pups, have been gassed to death, after outbreaks were reported on 36 mink farms. The Dutch government said it is “very likely” humans contracted the virus from the mink and is now considering closing down all fur farms in the country ahead of a 2024 deadline it had previously set for ending all fur production on its soil.
Coronavirus outbreaks have also been reported on four farms in Denmark and one in Spain.
The fur industry will be quick to blame the pandemic, which has impacted many industries, for its poor performance, but the USDA numbers make it clear that this industry has already been in free fall for some time now. With the availability of so many great manmade alternatives that are warm and stylish and look and feel just like fur, there is no good reason for anyone to contribute to the immense cruelty of fur. And with a growing number of nations now working to end fur production on their soil, as well as more U.S. states and cities looking to follow California’s lead by banning new fur sales, the writing is on the wall: fur is out of fashion.