Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Firms battle it out in bid to win ¤14m tagging deal

Published 12/07/2011 | 05:00

Fierce competition is expected between Irish tag companies to secure the €14m national tagging contract for the next three years.

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Department of Agriculture officials confirmed that the new contract will run from 2012 to 2014. It is estimated that the contract will be worth up to €4.6m per year to the winning company.

Tipperary-based Mullinahone Co-op has held the lucrative contract for the past 15 years since 1996 but at least four other companies are expected to submit tenders for this latest contract.

Monaghan-based Agrihealth Ltd, Quick Tag in Ballycastle, Co Antrim, Co-op Animal Health in Co Carlow and Galway operators Cormac Sheep Equipment have all confirmed their intention to submit tenders before the closing date of August 19.

For the first time, the national tagging contract will include tissue test tags which can be used for disease surveillance and eradication programmes.

The introduction of tissue test tags ties in with the Animal Health Ireland objective of working toward BVD eradication. However, the tags could also be used in future marketing schemes to identify the DNA of Irish beef or specific cattle breeds.

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The awarding of the contract will be based on weighted criteria, including the quality of tags (29pc), quality of registration form (5pc), quality of proposed service (26pc) and cost (40pc).

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The Department of Agriculture has come in for criticism within the tagging industry for the very short lead-in time to the tender deadline and the €3m minimum turnover requirement for companies tendering for the contract.

Others complain that the Government operates a single supply contract for such a lucrative, and obligatory, animal identification system.

Irish sheep farmers can buy tags from multiple suppliers, while British farmers can buy cattle tags from any one of a number of approved tag companies. In contrast, cattle farmers here must use the designated tag which wins the Department tender.

Ireland's tendering process for the tagging contract has come under scrutiny in the past, when the European Commission threatened to challenge the Department's procedure in the European courts. However, the challenge was withdrawn just days before the hearing date in May.

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