“It’s just gonna be a big factory farm and it’s just gonna be exploitation. There’s gonna be no personalization, that there’s gonna be no rehabilitative aspect to it. It doesn’t make sense.”
Shannon was one of a handful of demonstrators with Evolve Our Prison Farms who gathered outside Feihe International’s Royal Canada Milk, a Chinese infant formula plant that will produce goat milk infant formula for the Chinese market. The planned goat dairy at Joyceville, Shannon and others believe, will not benefit the prisoners who will work there. “This is all about the money.”
The return of Canada’s prison farms could be visionary, life-affirming, empathy-inducing, and environment-protecting through green agriculture and animal sanctuary. If, however, we remain blind to the treatment of prisoners, animals and the environment, then the future is dim indeed.
Prison farms should adopt an innovative approach to penal agriculture and a no-kill approach to animal therapy, in light of the climate emergency, Canada’s new Food Guide, and evolving social attitudes towards prison labour and animal welfare.
“Prison farms can be a model of justice,” says Neufeld (seen feeding a sanctuary cow). “Kingston is the penitentiary capital of Canada and I believe it can also be Canada’s voice of conscience for prisons and prisoners. We are holding onto a beautiful vision of what’s possible."
It is important to note how the intensification of the prison industrial complex via the new prison farms is mirrored by the debasement of animals. Factory farming goats by the thousands reduces both prisoners and animals to units of production whose value is measured by their productivity and profitability.