New Brunswick

Mink farmers coping with falling prices, reduced demand

Some New Brunswick mink ranchers say this province's industry is better suited to weather the current crash in pelt prices than other provinces.

Mink pelt prices have fallen to around $30 from being as high as $140

The price of mink pelts has dropped dramatically. The drop has caused major problems for the industry in Nova Scotia, but New Brunswicker farmers say they're better prepared to cope with the falling prices. (Stephen Puddicombe/CBC)

Some New Brunswick mink ranchers say this province's industry is better suited to weather the current crash in pelt prices than other provinces. 

Saturated markets and lower demand for the fur on the international market have resulted in hundreds of layoffs in Nova Scotia.

"We expected this to happen," said Paul Flemming, a mink rancher, referring to the recent drop in pelt prices.

"It wasn't unexpected." 

Flemming's Mink Ranch, which is located outside of Woodstock, has been in operation since the 1930s. 

Flemming said he took over the ranch from his father and is now in the process of handing it over to his nephew.

He said most New Brunswick mink ranches have been around for decades and are accustomed to pelt prices fluctuating. 

"There's been a period where the ranching has been very good in the last few years," said Flemming.

"That's uncommon." 

Mink pelts were, until recently, highly valued in international markets, including Russia and the growing Chinese middle-class.

Black pelts were selling between $110 and $130 each, largely due to the high demand from Russia and China.

But this year's mild winter, coupled with those countries slowing economies, have contributed to much lower pelt prices. Pelt prices have dropped to about $30 to $40.

"We also have major, major, overproduction," said Flemming, referring to China's new domestic mink ranches.

"So we've almost hit like a perfect storm in this last year." 

Flemming said due to most New Brunswick mink ranches being established for decades, the industry in this province is doing better than in others. 

Flemming said New Brunswick's industry is better suited for the drop in prices, partially because there are fewer ranchers.

"We've been established for quite some time so we're used to the fluctuations in the prices," he said.

"This has been an uncommon occurrence with the prices going up for a period. And as a result, we knew what was coming. But the ones that are newer into it naturally it will hurt them more because in order for them to get into it, it's capital intensive, it takes a lot of money to get started." 

About the Author

Shane Fowler

Reporter

Shane Fowler has been a CBC journalist based in Fredericton since 2013.

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