TD takes aim at farm organisations over cattle tag supplier stance

Farming organisations should not be involved in bidding process for supply of tags to farmers, according to Roscommon – Galway TD, Michael Fitzmaurice.

He also criticised the collection of levies via cattle tags stating that he does believe that these ‘so called voluntary levies. should be collected by anybody.

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.

Deputy Fitzmaurice said that it is rather unusual that there are a few farming organisations who he said should believe in competition who have been proposing that there should be one supplier.

“I always believe that the open free market is the way forward in any business. The facts are that there are more than one company well capable of supplying these tags and some of those companies are providing employment in the West of Ireland.”

“This has been a closed shop over the years and I have even got correspondence from the EU on this matter expressing surprise at the situation,” he said.

Deputy Fitzmaurice also highlighted that a huge amount of money goes to the ICBF from these ‘voluntary’ contributions.

“I am of the very strong opinion that no money should be taken from farmers cheques by the factories, or when they look for tags or that go to various destinations like the ICBF and the main farming organisations as well.

“The only deductions that should be made from cheques is that which can be deducted by law. Farmers who want to give this money should supply in writing that they agree to the deductions”

“I will be highlighting this matter with the new Minister and if legislation needs to be brought in then let’s do it. I also note that a lot of funding from the Beef Genomics is going to the ICBF and that needs to be looked at too.

“The board of directors at ICBF is made up of some members of the main farming organisations. It might be worthwhile if the salaries of the board members at the ICBF were published in the interests of transparency.

“It might be more in the line of the farming organisations to represent the interests of their members rather than being directors on various boards,” he said.