The receivership of TLT International was raised in the Dail this afternoon.
Fianna Fáil Clare Deputy Tim Dooley called for greater investment in the livestock trade as a matter of urgency in light of the receivership of Mullingar-based TLT International.
In addition, Westmeath Deputy Robert Troy, also expressed concerns for the workers and farmers affected by the move.
Minister of State Tom Hayes described it as an “unfortunate turn of events” but stressed the positive steps being taken by the Irish Co-Operative Society.
Speaking first Deputy Dooley said: “Live shipping provides a very significant competitive component market for weanling and store cattle, particularly focusing on the West of Ireland and the county I represent, County Clare.
“Live shipping provides a very important level of competition which ensures farmers get a valuable price for their produce, without live shipping Irish farmers would suffer very considerably with reduced cattle prices.”
He said the news that TLT went into receivership was extremely worrying for marts and farmers owned money and for the company itself. “It is particularly worrying for livestock producers concentrated in the West of Ireland, many in my constituency of county Clare who are in beef production and who are in the suckler cow schemes.”
He called on the Government to explore export credit refunds. “You have to look at various different schemes and mechanisms to promote and support the work of livestock farmers.”
Speaking next, Westmeath Deputy Robert Troy talked about the “potential elimination of TLT” based in his own consistency. “It is very timely that we have this debate here today. It is crucial for the farming sector that we have a competing live export trade. To ensure we have competition and to ensure factories are not in an over-dominant position on an Island economy.
“We are all fully aware that the agri-food industry is worth more than €1bn per annum. It is very important that the minister takes a hands-on approach to this issue and works with the receiver and ensures that the business survives and that Mullingar continues to be a hub for live export industry of Ireland.”
Deputy Troy said there was “huge concern” out there among the farming community and among the marts. “We need to take steps to ensure that the marts and the farmers are not left out of pocket.”
He called on the Government to move quickly to work with the receiver to “resuscitate the business as a going concern”.
In reply Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture Tom Hayes said he shared the current concerns and described it as an “unfortunate turn of events”.
“The company [TLT International] has been a significant player in the export of live cattle to the continent, accounting for about 20 per cent of total exports. 20,800 in 2012 and 12,800 up to the end of September this year.”
He stressed the positive comments by the Irish Co-Operative Society that “marts have historically paid the farmers during the period of worse crisis and will continue to do so”.
The minister continued: “My understanding is that the company is being place in receivership by the AIB and HSBC Banks who are owed significant amounts of money.
“I also understand the company had advance a number of reasons for their financial difficulty including the slow Italian economy, rising cattle prices in Ireland and difficulties in getting payment from customers.”
He said the Agriculture Department will not intervene. “I’m sure the house will understand neither I nor the department can interfere in the operations of the receiver. That’s very important.
“The position is that the role of the receiver, which is set down in law, is to establish the assets and liabilities of a company and in particular to realise and receive assets in the hope that’s debts outstanding to the holders can be met.”
Minister Hayes confirmed TLT International had been a dominant Irish exporter of weanlings to the Italian market, accounting for approximately 70 per cent to that market in recent years.
“Clearly the placing of TLT into receivership is very unfortunate. I do not believe it places the the live export trade in jeopardy. It is likely that the absence of this company from the marketplace will have some impact on the weanling market. However I do not believe that the impact on the weanling market will be very significant. Particularly in view of the fact that the peak weanling trade takes place in early autumn. In addition exports of live cattle to Italy have declined significantly in rent years mainly as a result of higher prices here in Ireland, which means our cattle are less price competitive for live export, consumption is also down in Italy.
“It is clear that the Italian market has actually been declining. There are also quite a few live exporters still in business and are capable of taking up some of the slack. Exporters have shown great flexibility in the past.”