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Canadian Non-profit Seeks Plant-based Focus, No Animal Slaughter at Prison Farms

by Derek Gilna

A Canadian non-profit organization, Evolve Our Prison Farms (EOPF), has come out in opposition to the Canadian government’s plan, announced in early 2018, to reinstitute prison farms that will include the slaughter of livestock. A total of $4.3 million over five years was authorized to recommence dairy operations in Correctional Service Canada facilities in Kingston, Ontario.

Previously, prisoners carried out “artificially impregnating cows, separating calves from their mothers, and sending cows and calves off to slaughter,” according to, a vegan website. “Further, some prisoners were trained at onsite slaughterhouses, one of which is still in operation.”

EOPF, which is strongly against the prison dairy proposal, has advocated that prisoners instead be trained in a wholly plant-based operation. According to EOPF founder Calvin Neufeld, “Teaching prisoners to exploit and slaughter animals is neither therapeutic nor rehabilitative. A plant-based model is said to teach responsibility and empathy without the exploitation of animals.”

Neufeld also noted that plant-based farming operations use less energy, are better for the environment and healthier for consumers. He supports caring for animals through a sanctuary model of prisoner-animal therapy, rather than raising them for slaughter.

Although prison officials argued that one of the reasons for the farms is to provide employment training, in 2010 Canadian Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said less than one percent of prisoners who had worked on prison farms found work in an agricultural industry after their release. Regardless of the government’s stated goals, EOPF contends that the reality is that dairy farms are “devastating to the environment, detrimental to human health, and in the context of prisons, counterproductive to rehabilitation.”

EOPF surveyed the prisoners themselves, and out of 143 written responses that were returned, only 28% supported the prison farm proposal while 72% felt a plant-based option would be a better choice. One prisoner said he had suffered from being involved in slaughtering animals.

“It would be nice,” that prisoner said, “to see a farm system based on Loving Kindness and not exploitation & slaughter. I personally could not be present in any area where animals are being killed. I have suffered a trauma so profound because of the offense I committed that just the thought of seeing any living thing die is unthinkable to me.”

EOPF made various suggestions, including producing food that “prioritizes ecological sustainability, human health, food security, and fiscal responsibility.” It also recommended that prison officials offer “work and learning opportunities for prisoners that provide education, life skills, and job skills relevant for reintegration into a society that is increasingly concerned with issues of climate change, public health and animal welfare, and where job opportunities continue to grow in sectors such as organic plant production, food services, and animal care.”

The first part of the $4.3 million the Canadian government is investing in prison daily farms will go towards establishing a goat milk operation at the Joyceville Institution in Kingston. According to EOPF, “As part of this ‘rehabilitation’ program, prisoners will inseminate goats, remove newborn kids in order to machine-milk their mothers (most males are slaughtered in infancy), and finally prisoners will send the goats to slaughter, while also butchering animals from hundreds of local farms.”

The prison daily farm will reportedly supply goat milk for use in infant formula produced by a Chinese-backed processing plant run by Feihe, Int. 

Ed. Note: Evolve Our Prison Farms contributed to this article.


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