IFA Animal Health Chairman Bert Stewart said IFA has written to the Department of Agriculture this week in relation to new cattle tag supplier arrangements, outlining that the Department must be able to guarantee farmers that the new system will deliver a tagging and identification system that meets all the requirements of farmers.
He said, “IFA has reiterated the strong view to the Department that the arrangements for the supply of tags and the identification of cattle in Ireland, and the robustness of the system, are critical components of our traceability system. This is fundamental to maintaining and developing high value markets for our produce and vital in the effective control and eradication of disease from our national herd”.
The IFA Animal Health Chairman said IFA has outlined the key requirements for farmers including the most competitive and effective approach for the supply of tags and diagnostic testing, reduced loss rates, the provision of a top class service and helpdesk facility to farmers, and a guarantee of total security and absolute confidentiality from all approved suppliers.
IFA has made it clear that, under the new system, it is essential that the Department can guarantee that tags and associated services will be supplied to farmers on time and in line with farmers’ requirements.
“The Department needs to set out the penalties involved for approved suppliers failing to process and deliver tags and services on time to farmers and the recompense for farmers in such circumstances. IFA is very concerned that under the new approval process, farmers could be left waiting for tags until late 2016 or early 2017. Such a major delay could seriously undermine the current robust tagging and identification system. IFA is demanding that the Department must guarantee that tags are delivered to farmers on time.”
Bert Stewart said the Department needs to insist that approved suppliers must supply tags with a loss rate of less than 3% as opposed to the 7% specified by the Department in their approval document. In addition IFA is demanding that approved suppliers must be required to supply replacement tags within 24 hours of a request from the keeper and not 3 days as specified by the Department.
The IFA Animal Health Chairman said the Department must guarantee that the new system will not allow some tag supply companies to cherry pick the market by targeting larger herds and, in turn, price discriminate against smaller herd owners.
He said the security of the tissue tag and sample is essential. In addition, he said the Department must be able to guarantee farmers that there will be adequate competition in terms of the number of laboratories available at the most competitive price to analyse both BVD and genotype samples from farmers regardless of the approved tag supplier they use.
IFA is insisting that the Department must be in a position to assess and guarantee farmers that electronic readers associated with approved electronic tags meet acceptable standards in terms of accuracy of reading and other requirements.
Bert Stewart said it is important that the Department ensures that the new policy and process is open, transparent and fair to all tag supply companies who wish to apply for approval to supply tags and associated services to the Irish market. The process must prioritise quality and security of the tags and associated services, which must be independently and expertly evaluated as well as guaranteeing that the costs to individual farmers will be kept to a minimum and will not increase.