Prison Farms & Feihe Connection

It is reported that Canada’s new prison farms will supply goat milk for export to China via the Feihe International infant formula factory in Kingston, ON (Canada Royal Milk). This use of prison labour for the private sector would violate human rights and contradict Canada’s own laws banning import of prison-produced goods. A petition has been launched to Stop the Prison Industrial Goat Farm.


Questions are being raised again over the government’s controversial prison farm program at two facilities in Kingston, Ont., with apparent plans to use cheap prison-labour to produce goat milk to be exported to China for baby formula. The Hill Times, June 6, 2022

[Kingston MP] Gerretsen has stated to the media that the expected buyer of the goat milk is the Chinese-based Feihe Corporation (Canada Royal Milk), whose Kingston plant makes infant formula mainly for export. CORCAN’s farm manager told Ontario Farmer magazine that “the milk is destined for Feihe,” and the president of Ontario Goat says that there is currently no other market for goat milk. The Hill Times, April 5, 2021

Canada’s Proposed Prison Farm Program: Why It Won’t Work and What Would Work Better,” was released on Jan. 31. The report presents a detailed critique of the CSC’s current plan to convert the farms at Joyceville and Collins Bay penitentiaries into an intensive livestock operation, using prison labour to produce goat milk for sale to a private corporation to make baby formula for export. The Hill Times, March 8, 2021

The prison farm came into the picture because Feihe, which has now built its factory and has incorporated in Canada as Canada Royal Milk, wants to produce a second line of formula using goat’s milk. CSC has been working on developing a 2000 dairy goat operation at Joyceville to sell the milk to Canada Royal Milk. If constructed, it will be the largest goat dairy operation in Canada. Frontenac News, February 17, 2021

That is the loophole that CSC is using as justification [to] use prison labour to produce goat milk for Chinese owned processing and export, while at the same time Canada does not allow any imports manufactured with prison labour. Ontario Farmer, October 13, 2020

The use of prison labour to advance the commercial interests of China’s top infant formula producer is also inconsistent with Canada’s obligations as a signatory to the World Health Organization. Ontario Farmer, August 4, 2020

The new prison farm model doesn’t reflect the values or goals of the old one… the current plan involves turning local prison farms into an industrial goat dairy operation reportedly producing milk for the Chinese-owned baby-formula factory being built in Kingston. Kingstonist, May 26, 2020

Multiple reports since the 2018 funding announcement have linked the launch of the prison dairy farms to a new nearby plant as a potential supplier for the Canada Royal Milk infant formula company, run by Chinese company Feihe. The Hill Times, April 22, 2020

The arrival of the dairy goat herd is expected in the summer of 2020. It is widely assumed that the Feihe infant formula plant currently under construction in Kingston will use goat milk collected at Joyceville Institution. The Kingston Whig-Standard, November 15, 2019

One major change in the prison farm system will be the introduction of a large industrial goat dairy operation at Joyceville. The decision to create an industrial dairy plant happens to come at the same time that both the federal and provincial governments have offered unspecified millions in funding to Feihe International, a Chinese-government-owned corporation registered in the Cayman Islands, to build an infant formula processing plant in Kingston, just a few kilometres from the farm at Joyceville. Briarpatch Magazine, October 29, 2019

It is believed that Joyceville will supply Kingston’s Feihe plant with goat’s milk for infant formula production and everything else produced will go to the open market. [Conservative national defence critic James] Bezan said prison farms should be producing food for prisons, but that is not happening in the current model. “Look at the production of the infant formula. That should be produced by a farmer, not a by prison,” he said. The Kingston Whig-Standard, June 14, 2019

Seeking external markets, CSC opted for industrial goat dairy as the core operation of the new program. Up to 2,000 goats will be farmed in a contained facility at Joyceville to supply China’s top infant formula producer Feihe International. The new prison farm model provided an “opportunity for the correctional institution to play a role” in Feihe’s operations, according to [Kingston MP] Gerretsen. Kingstonist, June 11, 2019

The federal government has announced that about 2,000 goats and only about 90 cows will be part of the prison program, and Canada Royal Milk [Feihe International] will be focusing on production of goat milk products. Global News, June 7, 2019

[CSC Regional Manager] Chris Staley said that milk from the farm’s goats will be the major livestock enterprise at the farm. The milk is destined for the Feihe infant formula factory currently under construction here. Ontario Farmer, March 26, 2019

The re-opened farms will operate a goat dairy, in which milk will be sold to a Chinese-based infant formula producer, Feihe International. Radical Philosophy Review, February 9, 2019

For a time, the government was talking of having only goats, to provide milk for a baby formula plant to be built in the area. Edible Ottawa, January/February 2019

CSC wanted goats as part of the program with an infant formula plant soon to open in Kingston. “The federal government’s interest and approval of the goat operation is related to increased demand for goat milk in eastern Ontario that will come with the [Feihe] plant.” Ottawa Citizen, June 22, 2018

[Prison Farm Advisory Panel co-chair Dianne Dowling] said CSC wanted goats as part of the program with the Kingston Feihe plant opening in the near future. “The federal government’s interest and approval of the goat operation is related to increased demand for goat milk in eastern Ontario that will come with the Feihe plant,” she said. The Kingston Whig-Standard, June 21, 2018

None of the milk will be processed on site. Instead, the hope is that both the cow’s milk and the goat’s milk will be shipped to the Feihe Int. processing plant currently under construction in the Kingston area, although no plans have been finalized. The new facility is backed by the Chinese government., June 21 2018

Around 500 dairy goats will join the cows, with hopes of expanding to more than 1,000 goats in the coming years when a major infant formula facility opens in Kingston. The Globe and Mail, June 21 2018

Corrections Services Canada will be looking to develop goat milking operations, manned by inmates, that will see product going to the nearby Feihe plant to be turned into baby formula for the Chinese market. Frontenac News, March 14, 2018

The prison farm could take part in such new opportunities as goat farming, since there will be a large demand for goat milk locally once the Feihe International plant opens by the early winter of 2019. The Kingston Whig-Standard, May 12 2018

[Prison Farm Advisory Panel co-chair] Dowling points to a looming demand for both cow and goat milk from an upcoming Chinese-owned infant formula factory in Kingston. The London Free Press, March 16 2018

[Prison Farm Advisory Panel co-chair] Dowling believes the move to dairy goats is because of the China-owned Feihe infant formula factory due to open in Kingston next year, with CORCAN possibly providing some of the goat milk it will need. “Definitely it’s connected to the marketing opportunity with Feihe,” she said.The Kingston Whig-Standard, March 8 2018

New Chinese baby formula plant to buy Canadian milk — but at what price? A CBC News investigative report detailing federal funding, access to information requests, missing information, and tracking the Feihe connection back to 2016, timing which coincides with the government launching its public consultation process into reopening the prison farms. CBC News, August 3 2017