Canada's venerable prison farm system is being phased out, starting with the closing of two farms in the Kingston area, the Correctional Service of Canada has announced.

All six farming operations across the country will gradually be shut down over the next two years, spokeswoman Krista McGregor said Monday.

The farms have been providing work for inmates since the 1880s. But prison officials say they are no longer an effective form of rehabilitation.

"As long as penitentiaries themselves have been around, inmates have been encouraged to grow their own food, [and] pay their own way," said Craig Jones, executive director of the John Howard Society of Canada.

He was not surprised to hear the correctional service is closing the farms.

"It's a 19th-century model. It really is time to think about putting that money into various skills and trades that are more contemporary," he said.

An estimated 300 inmates work on the six Canadian farms. In Kingston, the operation involves supplying milk and eggs to other prisons.

But prison officials said Monday that inmates now need a different set of skills to succeed in the workplace.

"Employment-related skills are major factors in an offender's ability to pursue a crime-free life," McGregor said.