Macra fearful changes to cattle tag supplier rules could cause problems

Macra na Feirme is fearful that with an increase in the amount of cattle tag suppliers, regulating the standard of the tags could cause potential problems.

The decision was made recently by the Department of Agriculture to allow farmers to buy cattle tags from numerous suppliers from November 1.

However, while certain standards must be met by producers of cattle tags, the more suppliers there are, the more Department resources must be dedicated to regulating tag standards, Macra outlined.

Macra stated that a scenario where some suppliers attempt to produce sub-standard tags must not become a reality.

Sub-standard quality tags have the potential to become a financial burden on farmers, it said, as lessor quality tags also run the risk of affecting animal traceability.

Macra President Sean Finan said inferior tags increase the chances of animals losing tags, subsequently affecting the farmer’s ability to comply with cross-compliance obligations under animal ID.

On the plus side, an increase in suppliers will improve competition in the market, Finan also said.

‘‘An increase in suppliers will improve competition between suppliers with the potential benefit to the farmer of cheaper cattle tags.

Multiple suppliers will increase the options for farmers, therefore allowing the farmer to shop around for the best price.

New Cattle tag requirements

The ear tags must meet the requirements for bovine identification set down under European Union legislation and the Department’s specification.

These requirements include that the tags are tamper-proof and are not re-usable, as objectively assessed by independent experts.

The Department has said that it has met with potential tag suppliers and has invited them to submit applications for approval to supply cattle tags in Ireland.

Tag suppliers have been advised by the Department on issues relating to the suitability of tissue tags for BVD testing purposes and has offered to provide further guidance and assistance as necessary.

Meanwhile, the supply of approved tags from November 1, 2016 and the new arrangements will remain in place until December 31, 2017.