Through our research into the US fur industry, we believe these are the weakest links:
Feed is the single biggest expense in raising mink. Even a small increase in feed costs would destroy many – if not most – fur farms. As an example, when the Fur Breeder’s Agricultural Cooperative stopped delivering to a small town in Utah (forcing them to use another supplier or make their own), at least two fur farms there were forced to close.
The Fur Commission USA spends a full 25% of its budget on mink farming research. Through research into feed, disease, pelt quality, and more, the US fur industry maintains a competitive edge over other markets. A list of the research FCUSA find most important (as expressed through funding) can be read here.
According to a Fur Commission USA poll, a disease outbreak is their second biggest fear as fur farmers (after attacks by animal rights activists). An aluetian disease outbreak can wipe out a mink farm in a matter of weeks. There is only one remaining company producing vaccines: United Vaccines, with three locations around Madison, WI.
Right now there is a severe shortage of facilities able to process raw animal skins. Currently, the only large-scale operation is the North American Fur Auctions processing plant in Stoughton, Wisconsin (near Madison). This plant has trouble handling current volume, and is an extremely significant lynchpin.