Quality and price reason for only one cattle tag provider

The Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has cited quality and price as the reason why there is only one supplier of cattle tags in Ireland.

The Minister was responding to a question this week from Éamon Ó Cuív as to the reason behind the policy, when there are 13 approved suppliers of sheep tags.

Ó Cuív stated that a multiplicity of approved suppliers would ensure competition in the marketplace for price and quality service.

Currently, a conventional and tissue sampling tag set costs €2.70 from Mullinahone Co-op. Electronic sheep tags currently cost in the region of €1.40 per set depending on supplier.

Minister Coveney said: “The restriction of the supply of bovine tags to a single supplier is designed to ensure that farmers obtain the best tag from a technical and price perspective. The farming organisations have expressed a preference for this approach on the basis that it ensures that ear tags can be made available at a more competitive price by a single supplier benefiting from economies of scale.”

He said: “Competition as between the various potential suppliers is ensured through public procurement competitions which are held by my Department on a regular basis to source a contractor for the supply of bovine tags. Tag supply companies are invited to submit a tender application as part of this process.

“The holding of competitions for the supply of bovine tags on a regular basis ensures the Department’s evolving requirements can be met in a manner that is consistent with ensuring high technical standards in a competitive framework whilst availing of quality products consistent with best available technology and value for money.”

The Minister outlined that the current contractual arrangements provide for a two year tenure from November 1, 2012, with the option of two extensions of one year durations. The intention is to continue with a public procurement competition for the supply of bovine tags from a single supplier into the future, he said.