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Humane Care Certification Program

What is the FCUSA Humane Care Certification Program?

The mink industry’s Humane Care Merit Award program, launched in 1989, was one of the first formalized humane care certification programs in U.S. agriculture. To guide the program’s implementation, the same year also saw the first publication of the Standard Guidelines for the Operation of Mink Farms in the United States.

In consultation with veterinarians, animal scientists, wildlife biologists and farmers, the industry has developed a set of rigorous standards for the humane production of farm-raised mink. Updated regularly, these standards promote best management practices and responsible animal stewardship.  The Guidelines pay detailed attention to issues of Accommodation, Food and Water, Health, Environmental Quality, Transportation, Euthanasia and Bio-Security.

Only after an independent licensed auditor completes a comprehensive compliance-inspection does a farm receive the Humane Care Merit Award. Nearly 95% of U.S. mink production comes from certified farms. 

Standard Guidelines for the Operation of Mink Farms in the United States

In 1985, the Fur Farm Animal Welfare Coalition published the nation’s first set of operating Guidelines for the benefit of domestic mink and fox producers in the United States. These Guidelines were designed to assist farmers in assuring a humane environment for the animals under their care.  They were prepared by leaders in the U.S. fur farming industry, including professionals in the fields of veterinary medicine and animal nutrition, and the farmers themselves. The Humane Care Merit Award Program has won wide acceptance in the U.S. fur farm industry. By 1990, more than 95% of American mink production came from farms which met these standards and passed inspection by an independent veterinarian.


This extraordinary level of voluntary participation reflects the conscientious commitment of American fur farmers to the highest standards of humane animal care. In 1994, fur farming leaders undertook a comprehensive update and revision of the industry’s humane care Guidelines, creating separate Guidelines for mink and fox. The results of that process are presented in the following three booklets which focus on mink and is published by the Animal Welfare Committee of Fur Commission USA. Fox farming Guidelines are published by the U.S. Fox Shippers’ Council. Since 1994, the mink Guidelines have been reviewed and modified numerous times and it is a document that is continuously under review, reflecting changes in animal science.

The 2019 Standard Guidelines have been written to reflect the most recent scientific thought on animal care and welfare, and have been scientifically peer reviewed by a nationally renowned animal auditing organization.  These new standards are being implemented throughout the country and reflect the highest animal welfare and humane care protocols in the world.

The Standard Guidelines for the Operation of Mink Farms in the United States consist of four “Books”; Humane Care Standards, the Farm Audit Instrument; the Biosecurity Protocols for Mink Farms in the U.S., and Forms, Records and Protocols. Each can be downloaded as a PDF below.

  • Book 1: Humane Care Standards

    • Preface, Definitions

    • Introduction

    • Glossary

    • Section 1: MANAGEMENT

    • Section 2: ACCOMODATION

    • Section 3: FOOD & WATER

    • Section 4: HEALTH


    • Section 6: TRANSPORTATION


    • References

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