By now, all of you that shipped fur for the late June early July NAFA sale have received your checks and paper work. While the sale was disappointing, the results of the sale shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone. With everything that has been written and forecasted the sale results pretty much fell in line with predictions. I have written similar articles in the past. The most recent in the fall of 2008 after pretty much the entire world fell into a recession, the likes of which hadn't been seen since the great depression.
We are often asked by new shippers, "What happens to the fur that wasn't sold?" The fur that wasn't sold which would be primarily 'coon, gray fox, and a few other types will be offered again on the next sale. Basically, the fur is offered until it is sold. In the late 1980's when the market completely fell apart, I personally had fur that took several seasons to completely sell. NAFA does reserve the right to destroy fur that has no value. At this point if it has been graded, baled and assigned a lot number- I would say destroying fur would be highly unlikely.
The current market conditions particularly in relation to coon are frustrating on all levels from the producer to the seller. No one gets paid until the fur is sold. On the other hand NAFA must walk the tight-rope between establishing a new market value and just plain selling fur under value. We all need to remember, NAFA makes their money off of a commission, the more they are able to sell your fur for the larger their commission. NAFA has a long history of marketing fur and has seen the best and worst of times. They will maneuver their way through this with their expert ability.
At this point the real reason behind all of this is that Russia has not been buying fur. Typically a lot of what they purchase is for utilitarian use, or in other words they just need fur to keep warm. Raccoon skins fall under the utilitarian use category. The Russian economy is based on oil, oil prices have fallen significantly which has devalued their currency (the Ruble), they just don't have the buying power they had when oil was higher. The issue in the Ukraine and the sanctions that are in place haven't helped either. They still have a demand and use for fur, we just have to wait and see how things develop.
The bottom line of all of this is - I am still going to trap! Don't get me wrong, I like a big fur check just as much as anyone else. However, trapping is way more than a fur check! It is engrained in me; it is part of my lifestyle. It is what I do!
I am looking forward to this season just as much as any other!
Until next time …
Charlie Masheck has been a trapper since 1972. He started Hoosier Trapper Supply in 1976 and was a fur buyer from 1976 - 1991. Charlie is also the formulator of the Leatherwood Line of trapping scents, Top Dog Predator Bait and Lip Licker Deer Lure. His 46 years of trapping experience and association with trappers and the fur industry have given him a history and perspective of the trapping trade few have.