Our friends at the National Farmers Union (NFU) have raised the concern that the Correctional Service of Canada will be shutting down Canada’s six prison farms over the next two years. In response, the NFU and partner organizations have been taking actions and building a broad, national campaign to urge the federal government to reverse this short-sighted decision and immediately halt the dismantling process.
They are asking supporters to take action and write the Prime Minister, the Minister of Agriculture, and the Minister of Public Safety to express their objections to the Correctional Service of Canada decision to end the prison farms program.
They have a sample letter which says, in part, “I think the decision to close the farms is wrong ; in fact, the program should be expanded. I urge the federal government to review the decision to close the program…”
The letter highlights, “If the agriculture program ends, I am very concerned about the future of the farmland at the prisons — some of the best in the Kingston region. Canadians need to be concerned about food security and food sovereignty, with farmland permanently removed from food production annually. The federal government should be taking leadership in saving farmland, not selling off irreplaceable assets for short-term objectives. At a time when the local food movement is increasing the demand and supply of locally-grown food, it makes no sense for CSC to quit growing food for the prison population.”
The ‘Letter for Politicians Expressing Opposition to the Federal Decision to Close Prison Farms in Canada’ can be read at http://nfuontario.ca/316/federal-decision-close-prison-farms-canada.
Additional information is available at http://nfuontario.ca/316/prison-farm-campaign.
Your urgent action on this is requested. The National Farmers Union and other farm organizations will be meeting with Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan to discuss this matter in just a few days on Monday June 8.
An April 2009 report in Maclean’s magazine noted that Correctional Services Canada spends $4 million annually on this program. The National Farmers Union has argued that the move to close the farms may be a cash-grab as the farm properties in Ontario alone are reportedly worth $2 million. That story is at http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/04/10/canada-to-shut-down-all-prison-farms/.
It does appear that public pressure is working. In mid-May Public Safety Minister Van Loan announced that the land would continue to be used for agricultural purposes, but the argument remains that this is a beneficial program.
This National Farmers Union campaign is also being supported by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, Food Secure Canada, the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul, and the Elizabeth Fry Society of Kingston.