Concerns over BVD testing with new cattle tag design

Concerns have been raised by the IFA over the new cattle tag approval process which its says jeopardises the future of the BVD programme.

According to Bert Stewart, IFA Animal Health Chairman the recently published tag approval process for the provision of bovine identification tags by the Department of Agriculture clearly shows a lack of co-ordination in the Department by only providing for a dual purpose tissue sampling and genomic testing tag to be approved.

He said this raises huge concerns for the accreditation status of laboratories to test for BVD which is a cornerstone of the current programme.

Stewart said the ability of all designated labs to test samples provided in the new format is very questionable with a number already raising concerns with IFA.

“This introduces the risk of BVD testing costs being increased for farmers by reducing competition.”

The logistics at laboratory level associated with identifying and forwarding the samples required for genomic testing following BVD testing have not been developed or the associated costs quantified.

“The new Tissue Sampling and Genomic testing tag is a more expensive tag, and while the option is important for farmers who require both tests, it is not acceptable this increased cost is imposed on all farmers by the Department as a result of the approval document they have issued,” Stewart said.

The Department announced last month that it has decided to withdraw a Request for Tenders (RFT) seeking a single supplier for the provision of cattle tags, which was published in May.

The Department said it decided to withdraw the request in light of legal representations received from a number of interested parties.

The legality of the Department of Agriculture’s cattle tag tendering process was called into question by a number of companies who raised legal issues around the tag security proviso of the tender.

The Department is now adopting an approval system which would enable approved suppliers, meeting specified standards and conditions, to supply tags in Ireland for the official bovine ID system.