Farming organisations should not have any influence on who supplies tags for cattle to farmers and the practice of deducting amounts from farmers cheques for tags should be stopped.
The contract for the supply of cattle tags is out at the moment from the Department of Agriculture. There is a stipulation there that means that a ‘voluntary’ levy is collected for the ICBF (The Irish Cattle Breeding Federation). I do not believe that these so called voluntary levies should be collected by anybody. It is rather unusual that there are a few farming organisations who should believe in competition who have been proposing that there should be one supplier. I always believe that the open free market is the way forward in any business. The facts are that there are more than one company well capable of supplying these tags and some of those companies are providing employment in the West of Ireland.
This has been a closed shop over the years and I have even got correspondence from the EU on this matter expressing surprise at the situation. The Department have finally agreed that there could be more than one supplier. A huge amount of money goes to the ICBF from these ‘voluntary’ contributions. I am of the very strong opinion that no money should be taken from farmers cheques by the factories, or when they look for tags or that go to various destinations like the ICBF and the main farming organisations as well. The only deductions that should be made from cheques is that which can be deducted by law. Farmers who want to give this money should supply in writing that they agree to the deductions.
I will be highlighting this matter with the new Minister and if legislation needs to be brought in then let’s do it. I also note that a lot of funding from the Beef Genomics is going to the ICBF and that needs to be looked at too. The board of directors at ICBF is made up of some members of the main farming organisations. It might be worthwhile if the salaries of the board members at the ICBF were published in the interests of transparency. It might be more in the line of the farming organisations to represent the interests of their members rather than being directors on various boards