Our Mission: Ethical Prison Farms
We’re investigating Canada’s investment in commercial-industrial prison farms.
We’re documenting the decision-making and implementation process.
We’re exposing conflicts of interest, overspending, mismanagement, violations.
We’re opposing the exploitation of incarcerated persons for industry interests.
We’re advocating alternative ethical prison farm models.
A BRIEF HISTORY
In 2009-2011, Canada’s prison farms were dismantled. Public Safety and the Correctional Service of Canada said prison farms “did not reflect labour market demands of today and of the future.”
In 2016, Prime Minister Trudeau committed to restore prison farms in Kingston Ontario. Public Safety and the Correctional Service of Canada said prison farms “build essential skills for employment.” Federal budget 2018 allocated $4.3 million over five years for full implementation of a goats-only operation.
The former prison farms fed prisons. The new prison farms (originally expected to be implemented 2018-2023) are focused on commercial goat milk production. Prisoners will factory farm 2200 goats to produce infant formula for the Chinese market. While the goat farm has been delayed, a small herd of cows has been added to be milked for research, not for consumption or market sale. Cost of implementation over five years reached $16.3 million but no dairy operations were achieved.
Since 2016, Evolve Our Prison Farms has proposed ethical prison farm models. In January 2021, EOPF published the academic report “Canada’s proposed prison farm program: Why it won’t work and what would work better” exposing details revealed through Access to Information. In March 2021, the Correctional Service of Canada announced the “temporary pause” of its industrial goat farm.
In 2022, CSC quietly commenced construction of a manure lagoon and dairy facility infrastructure at Joyceville Institution, at a cost of $10.5 million.
Message from our Founder (2017)
Message from David Suzuki (2019)
Examples of successful programs:
Sheriff’s Office Animal Farm provides a haven for animals where inmates are taught how to care for and care about animals in the hopes they will carry that lesson on in their lives once they are released from jail.
Prisoners in the UK care for goats as part of NHS animal therapy sessions to teach them to “take responsibility for others” and to promote “positive social activity”.
Organic gardening at HMP Rye Hill in England “helps inmates kick drug addiction” and “creates a space that is beautiful, peaceful, and conducive to reflection.”
Pê Sâkâstêw Healing Lodge in Alberta produces thousands of kilograms of vegetables grown and harvested by inmates for the local food bank to help “break that cycle of poverty.”
Planting Justice is a grassroots organization with a mission to empower people impacted by mass incarceration with the skills and resources to cultivate food sovereignty, economic justice, and community healing.
Farm and Rehabilitation Meals (FARM) is a project that hires inmates as farmers, teaches them sustainable agriculture practices and puts produce on inmates’ cafeteria tables.