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11:00 - 12 January 2006

A Westcountry farmer battling to save her calf, which is under a death sentence because it could have bovine tuberculosis, claims ministers are pushing the animal close to slaughter.

Sheilagh Kremers claims she has been told by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) that she must choose a valuer for her five-month-old pedigree Dexter bull Mous'l Fern.

She believes that officials from Defra will now visit her farm to ask her to sign an agreement for the valuer and their valuation of the calf, which tests have indicated is a bovine TB carrier.

Mrs Kremers, from New Park Farm, Ogwell, near Newton Abbot, claims that if she agrees to both she will in effect be agreeing to the slaughter, which will lead to the death of her five-month-old Dexter bull calf.

She told the WMN: "They have forced me into choosing a valuer for the calf. They said that if I didn't decide on one they would come with the chartered surveyor's valuer, so I've chosen a local valuer.

"They will now inform me of a date when they will come to my gate and ask me to sign the form saying I accept the valuer which means I will accept the valuation. If I accept that I will be accepting the slaughter."

Mrs Kremers, 63, said she was still planning on continuing her fight and was hopeful of the calf escaping slaughter, and is launching a petition to save the animal.

Last night a spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), said: "Defra's position has not changed. This calf is a TB reactor, and under UK and EU law every TB reactor must be culled. This is not only in the interests of the owner's herd, but the interests of neighbouring herds, wildlife, and human beings.

"To clarify the position regarding the valuer, Defra can appoint a valuer but if the owner is not satisfied with that one they can go to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors to pick one."

Anyone who wants to sign the petition or support Mrs Kremers is asked to write to her at New Park Farm, Rectory Road, Ogwell, Newton Abbot, TQ12 6AH.