Department under fire on €20m cattle tagging contract
Serious questions have been raised over the tender process for the €20m national cattle tag contract.
The three year contract is up for grabs again this year, but suppliers believe that the process is unfairly weighted in favour of the existing supplier, Mullinahone, which has won the past four contracts covering the last 14 years.
Mullinahone's Eurotag division is run by former IFA county chairman Liam Egan, who said that he left the organisation when he joined the Tipperary co-op in 2000, "to ensure that I didn't have a foot in both camps".
A statement from the Department of Agriculture said that it had opted for a single supplier which followed the wishes of both the IFA and ICMSA.
While the IFA had no comment on the issue, the ICMSA said that they supported the single supplier system because it ensured tags were supplied at the best possible price. The ICSA expressed a preference for multiple suppliers on the basis of the competition provided between tag suppliers.
However, the Department believes that a single supplier is the best way of supplying tags at a "competitive price"
The statement added that it placed "a strong reliance on tag suitability, security and tamper evidence to support a secure bovine identification and traceability system that plays a key role in underpinning beef and dairy exports in a competitive marketplace".
In response, Fianna Fail's Éamon Ó Cuív said that the insistence by the Department on limiting the contract to one supplier "is a totally wrong decision and should be opposed".