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Independent.ie

Monday 20 November 2017

Last-gasp approval averts cattle tag crisis

Department under fire as 'bizarre' process to choose supplier will lead to delays

The Department confirmed that the new number/tag system is going ahead as from today, but farmers with supplies of the older tags can continue to use them up to the end of 2017.
The Department confirmed that the new number/tag system is going ahead as from today, but farmers with supplies of the older tags can continue to use them up to the end of 2017.

Martin Ryan

A crisis in the supply of cattle tags to livestock farmers has been narrowly averted after a "minute to midnight" approval by the Department of Agriculture of a supplier over the holiday weekend.

But the decision to approve the application of Mullinahone Co-op (Euro Tags), which was confirmed by the Department on Saturday morning, came "too late" to ensure continuity of supply for farmers.

The delay in approval has been criticised by ICMSA Deputy President Pat McCormack as "bizarre and simply unacceptable" stressing that while "farmers are expected to meet exacting requirements in relation to cattle tagging, it is deeply ironic and unsatisfactory to see such a level of uncertainty and confusion around the official administration of the issue".

A spokesperson for Agriculture Minister Michael Creed confirmed that three applications had been received, and the process or assessment for approval will continue with approved suppliers to be listed on the Department website.

Liam Egan, manager of Euro Tags, says a price increase is inevitable
Liam Egan, manager of Euro Tags, says a price increase is inevitable

The Department confirmed that the new number/tag system is going ahead as from today, but farmers with supplies of the older tags can continue to use them up to the end of 2017.

It is understood that a delay of about two weeks in the processing of orders under the new tagging numbering system is unavoidable because of the lateness of the approval of a supplier.

Meanwhile, manager of Euro Tags Liam Egan has welcomed the approval of their application to supply multi-format tags, conventional, electronic, tissue and BVD, covering the entire spectrum of requirements for livestock farmers.

"We have only received confirmation electronically, as yet, that we have been approved," he said yesterday.

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"There is a considerable amount of paperwork that has to be completed and approved by the Department of Agriculture, as well as changes to our system for the new numbering before we can supply orders.

"We'd hope to be up and running to deal with orders from farmers within about two weeks."

He added that the staff at the South Tipperary Co-op will be briefed on return to work this morning and pricing for the new tags is to be "reviewed" over the coming days.

"The price has not changed since early 2012. There will have to be some increase to cover the higher costs. We will be keeping it to a minimum, but some increase is inevitable," said Mr Egan.

Mr McCormack said that any increase in the cost of tags would not be acceptable to farmers.

"The ICMSA is emphatic that there must be no increase in the costs of the tags as a result of the confusion and changes engendered by the Department's wholly unsatisfactory supervision of the process," he said.

Farmers are also expressing concern that the failure to approve more than one supplier has removed any element of competition on the supply of tags.

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