Thursday 29 September 2016

Tagging prices set to fall as tender opened up to multiple bidders

Published 20/07/2016 | 02:30

FARMERS are expected to benefit from lower cattle tag prices after the Agriculture Department moved to withdraw the €20m tender for a single supplier.

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Under the new system, multiple suppliers will be permitted to supply ear tags.

The Department decision came on the day that Cormac Tagging were preparing to lodge High Court proceedings against the single supplier tender system.

"It has been our campaign that farmers deserved a choice of tag - the winner today is the farmer," said Ursula Kelly from Cormac Tagging, which is one of the three main suppliers of sheep tags in the country.

"Farmers will pay less for their tags next November because of competition."

Multiple suppliers are approved to sell sheep tags throughout the country.

The existing supplier Mullinahone Co-op's Eurotags division run by former IFA county chairman Liam Egan had won the past four contracts over the last 14 years.

It has used the French tag manufacturer Allflex to supply the cattle tags, with a loss rate of 4pc, and has previously stressed they set the price for the market at the lowest possible rate.

All farmers have been charged one price for cattle tags to date, with figures showing over 3,000 farmers order one a tag a year, while a further 39,425 individual herds ordered up to 19 tags last year.

The Department had previously stated it felt a single supplier is the best way of supplying tags at a "competitive price".

However, in recent days it confirmed the decision to withdraw the move to tender for a single supplier that was published in May after receiving representations from a number of interested parties.

It stated the issues raised could potentially have delayed the decision on the tender beyond the date on which the current contract was due to expire.

Standards

The Department said a "robust" approval system would be set up for suppliers meeting standards and conditions to supply the bovine ID ear tags.

Among the key issues will be quality of tags and service and standards on birth registration documents to ensure there is no drop in standards.

ICSA president Patrick Kent said competition between a number of suppliers that meet the standards can "only be a good thing leading to better value for money for farmers".

He said the ICSA had backed calls by firms for multiple suppliers similar to other countries including the UK.

Galway East TD Sean Canney said the introduction of multiple suppliers for sheep tags resulted in better prices for farmers and this could "ultimately result in more competition in the cattle tag market".

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