BUSINESS + ECONOMY

Live Mic: Coronavirus biting down on Utah mink farms

May 4, 2020, 4:00 PM
Utah mink farms...
Mink breeding farm interior in rural Denmark. (Photo credit: Getty Images)
(Photo credit: Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has nearly shut down Utah mink farms.

Clayton Beckstead, Utah Farm Bureau Northeastern regional manager, joined Lee Lonsberry on Live Mic. They discussed how COVID-19 is impacting Utah mink farms and farmers and the industry as a whole.

“Man, this coronavirus has just been detrimental to our industry,” Beckstead said. “The majority of our products go overseas to China. So with all the travel restrictions and lockdowns in place, we haven’t been able to sell any of our products.”

“So you can imagine what that’s done to the fur industry economically. These family farms are being impacted in a big way,” said Beckstead, who is a fourth-generation farmer.

Fur facts

In Utah, there are about 65 mink farms ranging from Cache County in the north to Mona in Juab County in the south, Beckstead said.

That’s down from 121 in 1997, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

After Wisconsin, Utah is the second largest mink producing state.

More than 85 percent of pelts used in the world’s fur trade come from small, family-run farms. Approximately 275 U.S. mink farms in 23 states produced about 3 million pelts annually in 2013, with a value of more than $300 million, according to Fur Commission USA.

Beckstead stressed that Utah mink farms are multigenerational family operations.

Virtual auctions don’t allow for product inspection

“Is there any hope that once the dam breaks, once we are through this storm, that you’ll be made whole again?” Lee asked.

“We’ve tried to do some virtual auctions,” Beckstead replied. “Haven’t seen a ton of success with that just because the buyers can’t come in and inspect the goods.

“It’s pretty difficult to buy something that you can’t touch, feel, and see and be comfortable with purchasing. It has created some real issues that we’re trying to work through. We weren’t prepared for such a pandemic. Right now we are just hanging tight and sitting on the product,” Beckstead said.

“Anything in the CARES [Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security] Act that is helpful to you folks?” Lee asked.

“At this exact moment, no. They’re [the federal government] definitely hearing from the fur industry. We’re trying to get fur on that list [of federal aid to businesses] along with many other Utah agricultural products that are being impacted,” Beckstead said.

Stats on U.S and global fur industry

Each year, around 100 million animals are bred and killed on fur farms. The pelts supply the fashion industry with traditional fur coats and, increasingly, real fur trim for hooded jackets. The pelts are also used for real fur pompoms on hats, gloves, shoes and a range of other clothing and accessories. It’s estimated that as many as half of all animals raised for their fur are killed to satisfy the market for fur trim, according to Humane Society International.

In China in 2014,  60 million mink, 13 million foxes, and 14 million raccoon dogs were bred and killed on fur farms. The European Union indicates that 42.6 million mink, 2.7 million foxes, 155,000 raccoon dogs and 206,000 chinchillas are killed for fur, according to Humane Society.

The mink farming business says that nothing is wasted. The fat is rendered into mink oil that is used to protect and waterproof leather, as well as in the cosmetic industry and now sometimes to produce bio-fuels. The rest of the carcass, with the manure and soiled bedding (straw or shavings) is composted to produce organic fertilizers, according to Truth About Fur.

Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry can be heard weekdays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Business + Economy

Homes line the horizon in Daybreak in South Jordan on Wednesday, July 13, 2022. The world's populat...
Allessandra Harris

South Jordan could see new housing development

Amid Utah's housing crisis, developers are taking advantage of over 200,000 acres in South Jordan for a new housing community.
22 hours ago
A hiring sign is displayed in the window of a Panera Bread store in Pittsburgh on Monday, Jan. 23, ...
Paul R. La Monica, CNN

Jobs report to give further clues about where economy is headed

Economists predict that 185,000 jobs were added last month, a slowdown from the gain of 223,000 jobs in December and 263,000 in November.
2 days ago
File**People walk past the entrance to a Bed Bath & Beyond retail store along Sixth Avenue in N...
Paul R. La Monica and Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN

Bed Bath & Beyond says it can no longer pay its debts

The end could be near for struggling retailer Bed Bath & Beyond, as it warned in a regulatory filing Thursday that it received a notice of default from its lender, JPMorgan Chase.
4 days ago
With 24 other states on board, the Utah Attorney General announced on Friday a lawsuit against a De...
Simone Seikaly

Utah leading a lawsuit against new ESG rule affecting 401(k) plans

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said the states in the lawsuit are concerned about the federal government's promotion of ESG investing.
4 days ago
savings system right on the money...
Mark Jones

Economists are worried of a recession in 2023, financial expert weighs in

Many economists are fearing a recession in 2023 despite the U.S. economy ending last year better than expected.
5 days ago
A new service called Cottonwood Connect could address parking problems at the ski resorts in Big an...
Kate Davis and Simone Seikaly

Cottonwood Connect offers a new way to get up Cottonwood Canyons

The goal is to fill gaps left when UTA limited ski bus service. The shuttle will run Thursday through Sunday through mid-April.
5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Live Mic: Coronavirus biting down on Utah mink farms