The cattle tag tender has been withdrawn by the Department of Agriculture, in light of two companies challenging the legality of the tender.
According to the Department it has decided to withdraw the Request for Tenders in the light of representations received from a number of interested parties. It said that the issues raised had the potential to delay the adjudication of tenders beyond the expiry date of the existing contract.
The Department will now consider the adoption of an approval system which would enable approved suppliers, meeting specified standards and conditions, to supply tags in Ireland for the official bovine ID system. The details of the approval process are expected to be announced shortly.
The new approach, which will permit multiple suppliers to supply eartags, will be based on a robust approval system both of tags and suppliers. Approved suppliers will be required to meet minimum standards relating to the quality of tags, quality of service, issuing of birth registration documents etc. thereby ensuring that there would be no diminution in service standards to Irish livestock farmers.
The legality of the Department of Agriculture’s cattle tag tendering process was called into question over the last number of weeks, with a second company raising legal issues about the tag security.
The company called for the tender to be withdrawn and to be reopened on fairer terms, because it said it could not compete due to a stipulation around the tamper proof requirements.
The multi-million euro contract is currently provided by Mullinahone Co-op in Tipperary with over 2m new cattle tag sets ordered by farmers every year.
Meanwhile, some 77% of farmers who responded to an Agriland poll believe that there should be more than one supplier of cattle tags in Ireland.
In June, another company raised legal issues with the Department, which it said at the time it was looking into.
The decision by the Department to issue a tender for a single supplier has been met with criticism from the ICSA.
According to ICSA President Patrick Kent, competition is the best way of ensuring value for money for farmers when it comes to ordering cattle tags.
However, the Department has said that the policy of seeking a single supplier has been endorsed by the main farming organisations (IFA and ICMSA) on the basis that a single supplier, selected on the basis of a competitive tender and benefitting from economies of scale, is likely to make bovine tags available to herd keepers at a competitive price.