17 June 1998
Ear-tag maker blacklisted by MAFF
By Boyd Champness
EAR-TAG makers Cooper Marketing Ltd have been struck off the Governments list of approved suppliers after failing to ensure that their tag numbers are unique.
MAFF made the decision after it was discovered that the company had sent out tags with numbers that did not correlate with the departments computer database.
Farmers have now been advised not to purchase MAFF-approved tags from Cooper, of Cheltenham. They should instead go to another approved ear-tag manufacturer. The ruling applies to the companys primary approved and secondary approved tags.
A MAFF spokesman said: “They [Cooper] havent been logging numbers properly on to a separate database, so some of the numbers given out might not be unique. If two animals are wandering around the countryside with the same number it could possibly screw-up the whole system,” he said.
Unique ear-tag numbers are needed to trace cattle, and for the cattle passport system to run effectively.
He said MAFF would now have to track down all the farmers whove bought tags from Cooper to make sure the numbers are not duplicated on the departments centralised computer. He said he had no idea, at this stage, how many farmers this would involve, but believes the numbers to be small, and that the problem could be rectified.
Rod Francis, marketing manager of Cooper, said the company had been punished for admitting its mistakes.
“The mistakes have been traced back to human error which is not surprising given the amount of business weve been doing. We are not the only company guilty of this but we feel weve been singled out,” he said.
He said the company failed to input the correct numbers on the MAFF computer on two separate occasions out of 450 orders.
“Were aggrieved that this has happened because we have worked very hard to ensure farmers get their tags within 14 days of ordering them. Some manufacturers have been taking four months to deliver their tags,” he said
“With that in mind farmers have been going to MAFF saying `we cant get our tags, so we cant move our cattle, and because of our reputation of delivering within 14 days weve had a lot of work sent our way. Were victims of our own success,” he added.