In 2009-2011, Canada’s prison farms were dismantled. 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. The Correctional Service of Canada said prison farms will “build essential skills for employment.”
In 2018, the federal government allocated $4.3 million over five years for full implementation of a goats-only operation. The decision was later amended to include a commercial cow dairy operation as well.
The former prison farms fed prisons. The new prison farms, mandated to be implemented 2018-2023, focus on commercial milk production. Prisoners will factory farm 2200 goats to supply infant formula for the Chinese market. While the goat farm has been delayed by multiple failed procurement attempts, a small herd of cows has been added to be milked under research quota, with the milk to be sold commercially to the Dairy Farmers of Ontario.
By 2023, cost of implementation reached $20.9 million in direct spending, plus millions more in procurement and consultancy fees. Due to complications, no dairy operations were achieved within the mandated five year implementation timeframe.
Since 2016, Evolve has proposed ethical prison farm models. Since 2018, Evolve has opposed the new commercial-industrial prison farm model.
In January 2021, Evolve published the academic report “Canada’s proposed prison farm program: Why it won’t work and what would work better” exposing details of the prison farm plan and flagging potential harmful impacts on prisoners, staff, and surrounding communities.
In March 2021, the Correctional Service of Canada announced the “temporary pause” of its industrial goat farm. CSC maintains that the goat program “will resume” once the financial impacts of COVID-19 are fully assessed.
In 2022, CSC quietly commenced construction of a manure lagoon and dairy facility infrastructure at Joyceville Institution under a $10.5 million contract. The construction is scheduled for completion in 2024.