Farmers paid €855,000 in ‘voluntary’ cattle tag levies to ICBF in 2014

Farmers paid €855,000 in 2014 to the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) when ordering cattle tags, but nowhere on the order form can the ‘voluntary’ contribution be opted out of.

A registered charity, the ICBF provides cattle breeding information services to the Irish dairy and beef industries.

A set of cattle tags, which are ordered through Tipperary-based Mullinahone Co-operative, cost €2.70, and this includes a 38c ‘voluntary’ contribution to the ICBF. However, nowhere on the cattle tag order form can farmers opt out of this contribution.

According to the ICBF, the tag contribution in 2014 totalled €855,024. It says that the tag contribution is used to fund: Gene Ireland Breeding Programme Activities (both Dairy and Beef); Animal Events Data collection (e.g. Animal Events books, cost of keying data, etc.); and, Genetic Evaluations infrastructure (computers, geneticists).

ICBF Contribution

Manager of Eurotags at Mullianhone Liam Egan said the form that farmers fill out is part of the Department of Agriculture contract, which Mullinahone must comply with.

“The 38c is an optional feature for the cost of the tags for farmers, so if they tell us they don’t want to pay that then we don’t collect it,” Egan said.

However, the prices stated on the order form are inclusive of the contribution.

Farmers wishing to purchase multiple sets of tags, without paying the contribution, need to deduce for themselves the correct adjusted price.

Egan said farmers not wishing to pay the ICBF contribution are in the minority.

Farmers can do this by including a written note with the order form, indicating they wish to opt out of the contribution, and then subtract the 38c contribution for each set of tags, or phone the co-op to confirm this, Egan said.

“As I understand it, since the start of the ICBF, this funding was agreed between the Department of Agriculture and stakeholders. We simply collect the money.

“We won the contract and signed for it and this is part of the delivery of that contract,” Egan said.

As part of the cross-industry agreement to set up breeding federation in 1998, it was agreed that a tag contribution would be put in place.

The contribution is part of ‘three legs to the ICBF funding stool,’ with the other two being grants from the Department and service income.

ICBF did not respond to requests for a comment from Agriland.