Calls for Department to withdraw cattle tag tender as more legal issues raised

The legality of the Department of Agriculture’s cattle tag tendering process is being called into question, as a second company has raised legal issues about the tag security.

It is understood that this company has called for the tender to be withdrawn and to be reopened on fairer terms, because it says it cannot compete due to a stipulation around the tamper proof requirements.

The company believes that the incumbent’s patent on tissue sampling tags renders it impossible for other companies to fulfil the Department’s tamper proof requirements.

At the Department’s request, the company submitted sample tags last year, but was told that they were not secure.

Meanwhile, Agriland understands the closing date for receipt of tenders has now been extended for the fourth time to the July 19.

The multi-million euro contract is currently provided by Mullinahone Co-op in Tipperary with over 2m new cattle tag sets ordered by farmers every year.

It comes following some criticism of the Department’s decision to only allow one supplier of bovine cattle tags in Ireland.

Competition is the best way of ensuring value for money for farmers when it comes to ordering cattle tags, according to ICSA President Patrick Kent.

He said that he is in favour of choice when it comes to the supply of cattle tags and that choice in this case, means there needs to be more than one supplier.

“Price is an important factor but so too is durability as the cost of replacing tags has to be considered.

“We have seen the risk associated with losing tags, with farmers having to face heavy penalties.

“It is for these reasons that choice, durability and cost all need to be factored in. Competition is the best way of ensuring value for money for farmers.”

However, the Department has said that the policy of seeking a single supplier has been endorsed by the main farming organisations (IFA and ICMSA) on the basis that a single supplier, selected on the basis of a competitive tender and benefitting from economies of scale, is likely to make bovine tags available to herd keepers at a competitive price.