Legal issues have been raised with the Department of Agriculture in relation to its multi-million euro tender for a state cattle tag supplier.

The Department recently published a Request for Tenders (RFT) for the supply of bovine identification tags by a single supplier.

The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed last week confirmed that the legal issues have been raised in relation to the RFT and are being examined by the Department in consultation with its legal advisors.

In the meantime, he said the Department has decided to extend the closing date for the receipt of tenders for a short period.

The multi-million euro contract is currently provided by Mullinahone Co-op in Tipperary with over two million 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.

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