Concerns that farmers could have to wait till Christmas for cattle tags

The IFA has raised concerns that under a new approval process being developed for cattle tag suppliers farmers could be left waiting for tags until late 2016 or early 2017.

The current contract to supply cattle tags runs out in November and 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.

The Department says it expects that the new system will be operational with effect from November 1 at the latest.

It says any company that meets all the requirements set down by the Department will be approved to supply bovine identification tags on the Irish market from 1 November 2016.

However, the IFA says its very concerned that a major delay could seriously undermine the current robust tagging and identification system.

IFA says it is demanding that the Department must guarantee that tags are delivered to farmers on time.

The Department of Agriculture 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.

IFA Animal Health Chairman Bert Stewart said IFA has written to the Department of Agriculture this week in relation to new cattle tag supplier arrangements, outlining that the Department must be able to guarantee farmers that the new system will deliver a tagging and identification system that meets all the requirements of farmers.

“IFA has reiterated the strong view to the Department that the arrangements for the supply of tags and the identification of cattle in Ireland, and the robustness of the system, are critical components of our traceability system.

“This is fundamental to maintaining and developing high-value markets for our produce and vital in the effective control and eradication of disease from our national herd.”

The IFA Animal Health Chairman said IFA has outlined the key requirements for farmers including the most competitive and effective approach for the supply of tags and diagnostic testing, reduced loss rates, the provision of a top class service and helpdesk facility to farmers, and a guarantee of total security and absolute confidentiality from all approved suppliers.