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Tuesday, 1 February, 2000, 18:30 GMT
Calf shot in front of Tory chief

Previous action has involved dumping newly-born calves Previous action has involved dumping newly-born calves

Farmers' leaders have defended their action in shooting a calf dead in front of Conservative party chairman Michael Ancram.

They denied the episode was a publicity stunt.

The action, carried out as Mr Ancram visited a west Wales farm as part of the Ceredigion by-election, was the latest in a series of demonstrations by farmers in Wales.

In August, several calves were dumped in public phone boxes in protest against falling livestock prices.

Unlike before, the NFU deny it was a stunt The NFU denied the shooting was a stunt

The day-old calf was shot as Mr Ancram toured Ceredigion ahead of Thursday's parliamentary by-election in the constituency.

The National Farmers' Union in Wales - which organised the visit - said similar shootings were an everyday occurrence on farms across Britain.

But animal welfare group Compassion in World Farming described it as "an unnecessary act" which demonstrated that farming needed to change.

The animal was shot on Monday as Mr Ancram visited a farm in Silian near Lampeter with Tory by-election hopeful Paul Davies.

He was shocked...someone pulling a gun and shooting something in front of him
Conservative Party spokesman

Mr Ancram said the incident was a realistic demonstration of the crisis facing farming, but also said it had been "dramatic" and "grim".

A party spokesman added: "He was shocked as far as someone pulling a gun and shooting something in front of him."

He added the incident "wasn't on the itinerary".

A spokeswoman for the NFU in Wales said: "It was an organised visit. We haven't done this for some publicity stunt."

She added that government red tape and low prices at market meant farmers had little choice but to slaughter very young male calves.

"This is what farmers have to go through every day," she went on.

'Callous and inhumane'

"It's no joy for them to get a slaughterman to kill a healthy animal."

But Peter Stevenson, political director of Compassion in World Farming, said if the farmers shot the animal to get publicity, their action was "callous and inhumane".

"Dairy farmers have got to learn this way of treating animals is no longer acceptable to the majority of the public."

Mr Stevenson added that if the animals were worthless, it showed the whole system needed to be changed so animals did not have to be killed in this way.

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See also:
31 Jan 00 |  Wales
Ceredigion by-election
14 Oct 99 |  Farming in crisis
Prices - years of feast and famine
12 Oct 99 |  Wales
Tories raise stakes in Gwyther row
06 Oct 99 |  Wales
Assembly turns to Brown
05 Sep 99 |  Wales
Hill farmers issue stark warning
29 Aug 99 |  Wales
Welsh farming: an industry in crisis
28 Aug 99 |  UK
Farmers face 'worst crisis since 30s'
15 Aug 99 |  Wales
Calves slaughtered in new crisis
27 Aug 99 |  Wales
RSPCA condemns sheep-dumping
20 Aug 99 |  Wales
Calves dumped in call boxes
23 Aug 99 |  Wales
More calves dumped in farming protest

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