Open letter: No to prison dairy!

The following was released March 9, 2018:

Dear Mr. Goodale / Mr. Gerretsen,

It is deeply disappointing to learn that Corrections Canada will be establishing a goat dairy at the Joyceville prison farm. This is a narrow economically-motivated decision that flies in the face of public opinion, democratic process, and all available evidence concerning rehabilitative programming, ecological farming practices, and community health.

Through petitions and letters to public officials, Kingstonians and the broader community have eloquently advocated for plant-based farms without any form of animal exploitation. Plant-based farming is the obvious choice for reasons of ethics, sustainability, health, as well as skills training and community re-integration opportunities for prisoners. And sanctuary is the only option for rehabilitative human-animal relationships.

For a self-proclaimed gender-sensitive government, it is stunningly retrograde policy to institutionalize, inside a prison for men, the exploitation of female reproduction and sexuality in order to generate profit. Added to this is the deeply problematic linkage of the goat dairy to the multi-national infant formula producer Feihe, which will export over 80% of its product to China. The World Health Organization has identified China, where fewer than one in four mothers breastfeed their infants, as a key target for promoting breastfeeding. Once again, the interests of women and their children are being tossed under the bus by Canadian government policy.

Prisoner justice is also being sacrificed. Feihe, which is already benefiting from millions of dollars in Canadian corporate welfare, will now have access to prison labour too. These are not jobs that most prisoners want. In a recent survey Joyceville prisoners voted 70% in favour of plant-based agriculture and/or animal sanctuary over a goat dairy operation.

I wish to add my voice to the thousands of Canadians who have registered their opposition to involving prisoners in the inherently exploitative and harmful practices of dairy farming. I urge you to reconsider this decision while there is still time.

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Personalize and send this letter to Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale (Hon.ralph.goodale@canada.ca / 613-991-2924) and Kingston MP Mark Gerretsen (Mark.Gerretsen@parl.gc.ca / 613-542-3243). Phone calls also also highly effective.

Remember, we stand for non-violence. Please speak with respect, kindness, and conviction.