Farmers and marts ‘must be paid what they are owed’ by exporter

Farmers and livestock marts must be paid monies they are owed by TLT International, the country’s largest live cattle exporter, which has been put into receivership, it was stressed yesterday

Gearoid Costelloe, Grant Thornton, has been appointed receiver to the business following a decision by TLT’s London-based bankers, HSBC.

Irish Farmers’ Association president John Bryan met with the receiver in Dublin yesterday for an up-to-date report on the extent of the difficulties.

Mr Bryan said all outstanding payments to farmers and marts for livestock must be prioritised. He disclosed that the IFA’s solicitors outlined the association’s position to the receiver over the weekend.

The live export trade is very important for price competition across the €2bn beef and livestock sector, he said.

TLT International is based at Knockdrin, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, and employs some 30 people

For the past 20 years, Italian-born brothers, Paolo and Davide Garavelli, ran the company, which exported up to 30,000 cattle and 60,000 sheep annually, along with some pigs.

Following the receivership decision, the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association said it was receiving frantic phone calls from farmers.

Beef and Cattle Committee chairman Michael Guinan said these farmers, who had recently sold animals to the company or its agents, were literally sick with worry about their prospects of being paid.

“Our priority will be the monies owed to individual farmers. The broader issue is the need for our live export business to be strengthened and made viable,” he said.

Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association president Gabriel Gilmartin said the receivership reflects the risk-averse nature of the banking system at present.

He called on the receiver to provide immediate clarity on how many marts and how many farmers are exposed. “The receiver must then outline how he proposes to secure full payment of all monies owed to farmers and marts.”

Mr Gilmartin said farmers and marts could not be expected to solve the shortcomings in the banking system or to handle the inherent risks involved.

“The live export trade can be viable. However, live exporters are very vulnerable to any interruption of cash flow, which is an occasional reality of the business.”

ICSA suckler committee chairman Dermot Kelleher advised farmers with stock to sell to hold their nerve.

All the early signs are that the impact on the weanling trade has been minimal with a good trade reported in marts at the weekend, despite the news.

MEP Mairead McGuinness said the news that Ireland’s largest livestock exporter has gone into receivership was “very alarming” and had created “enormous uncertainty” for farmers and marts.

“The receiver is quoted as saying that monies owed to creditors runs into millions. We need to find out the extent of the liabilities to creditors, but it is clear marts and perhaps individual farmers will be impacted,” she said.


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