Department in race against time on tags
Officials forced to invoke emergency procedures for bovine ID
Livestock farmers could be without approved cattle tags from November, as the country's proposed bovine identification regime has hit serious problems.
The Department of Agriculture is in a race against time to secure EU approval for its cattle tagging regime before the current contract expires on October 31.
It has emerged that the Department was forced to invoke 'emergency procedures' when it lodged the latest technical notification on the new bovine tags with the EU last week.
This effectively means that technical approval for the new Irish cattle tags has to be fast-tracked by the European Commission.
However, a Department of Agriculture spokesman said he was confident the clearance from Brussels would be in place before the current contract expires.
"The Department has invoked the urgency procedure in order to facilitate the approval of tags and associate services as soon as possible and the Department anticipates that it will be in a position to complete the review of applications before October 31," the spokesman said.
However, it is not clear what action the Department will take should the approval process in Brussels extend beyond October 31. Ireland is required to maintain a bovine identification and traceability system under EU regulations governing the protection of food-producing animals and, indirectly, the protection of human health.
Mullinahone Co-op holds the current contract to supply bovine tags but the Department is moving to a multiple supplier model for the upcoming regime. The tender to supply around 2.2 million tags annually is worth €18m over three years.