Department finalises standards for new cattle tag suppliers

The Department of Agriculture has finalised the official standards for its new cattle tag supplier approval system.

According to the Official Standard seen by Agriland, for a conventional tag to be approved, the annual loss rate must not exceed 7%.

The Department sets out that losses must not exceed this limit in the equivalent of the Irish bovine system and production conditions i.e. having regard to the system of rearing, grazing, housing, fencing, restraining, transport, hedgerows and feeding systems and conditions that are routinely encountered in Ireland.

Loss rate in cattle tags is a key issue for farmers with a recent Agriland poll finding that 63% of respondents were unhappy with the quality of the current cattle tags.

The new cattle tag approval system is also understood to set out strict conditions in relation to the continuation of the collection and payment of the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) levy that is on tags.

Farmers currently pay a flat rate voluntary contribution of 38 cent per set of tags to the operating costs of the ICBF.

It is understood that any approved supplier will be required to ‘ensure the voluntary ICBF contributions are collected and to ensure the contributions are transferred monthly to ICBF.

Price

An approved supplier of cattle tags, is also not permitted to set a minimum order for supply of new tag sets or replacement tags. All new and replacement tags must be the same price irrespective of order size.

This measure was included to protect ‘smaller’ farmers from undue price increases under the new system.

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.

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.

In the Official Standards, the Department says it will make a decision (on a new supplier) as soon as possible after receipt of an application.

New supplier decision

The Department says it will provide a written decision, including the reasons for the decision taken, to an Applicant as soon as possible. In the case of a refusal, the Department will provide a written decision to an Applicant that clearly sets out the reasons for a refusal.

An Applicant for approval may request a review of a decision to refuse approval. An Approved Supplier may also request a review of the Decision to suspend or revoke an approval.

A Review Committee shall consider such a request for review of a decision to refuse, suspend or revoke an approval and provide a written determination as soon as practicable but in any event within two months of the request.