Farm Ireland

Tuesday 24 January 2017

Half of animals bought at bank-ordered auction of one of Ireland's top dairy herds have to be re-sold

Published 15/04/2016 | 22:05

Peter Kingston at his home, adjacent to his family farm in Nohoval, Co Cork. Photo: Daragh McSweeney
Peter Kingston at his home, adjacent to his family farm in Nohoval, Co Cork. Photo: Daragh McSweeney
TV FAME: From left, Richard, Jessica, Peter and Luke Kingston on ‘Ireland’s Fittest Family’ where they scooped €15,000. Photo: Gerard McCarthy

A bank-ordered auction of one of Ireland's top dairy herds because of a €2.4m farm debt was thrown into chaos after it emerged more than half the animals purchased will now have to be re-sold.

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The auction last Tuesday of more than 1,000 pedigree dairy animals on Peter Kingston's farm at Nohoval, Co Cork made national headlines after an injunction was sought to prevent land rights and debt relief campaigners from preventing the sale, arranged by Cork Sherrif Sinead McNamara, from proceeding.

Mr Kingston wept as his animals were sold with buyers attending the auction from all over Ireland, Northern Ireland and the UK.

The Craden Hill farm was established by his father, George Kingston (77), in 1972 and it was developed into one of the top dairy operations in Europe.

The farm was established by the Kingston family thanks to the profits from their bee hive operation.

However, in a startling development, auctioneer Denis Barrett confirmed last night that more than half the herd will now have to be re-sold after buyers failed to comply with the specific terms of sale.

"The sales agent, Denis Barrett, acting on behalf of the Cork County Sheriff representing creditors who are owed a significant level of debt by Peter Kingston, wishes to state that it is with regret that approximately 500 animals that were bid upon at a pedigree herd auction, held earlier this week at a farm in Nohoval, Kinsale Co Cork, must now be resold due to a failure to receive payment," a statement released last night confirmed.

"A significant number of animals, many of which were expected to achieve the highest prices on the day, were bid upon by two parties who have failed to comply with the terms and conditions in relation to payment."

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"It is with regret, added expense and frustration that the sales agent must now proceed with an online tender process for the resale of the animals when legitimate bidders lost out on the opportunity to acquire the animals in question at the auction."

It is understood that the bulk of the animals involved were the dairy cows which were the highlight of the auction.

The Kingston herd has provided five national dairy champions over the past 20 years.

In 2002, the Kingston herd also provided the champion at the prestigious Verona Show.

Peter Kingston breaks down during an interview. Photo: Darragh McSweeney
Peter Kingston breaks down during an interview. Photo: Darragh McSweeney

Mr Kingston described the auction last Tuesday as "absolutely heartbreaking."

He said he had made five offers to his bank in a bid to resolve the debt impasse without success.

Mr Kingston also said he had tried to bring an outside investor in to his operation in a bid to satisfy the bank's demands.

"It is very hard seeing you life's work being destroyed in front of your very eyes," he said.

However, he vowed that "the phoenix rose from the ashes and I will too.”

ACC Bank secured an order against him in relation to a €2.4m debt last year.

Cork Sheriff, Sinead McNamara, insisted the auction went ahead in accordance with legal requirements.

“I have a statutory duty to execute orders that are lodged with my office for execution,” she said.

The Cork Sheriff described the sales as “brisk” last Tuesday but acknowledged that a larger crowd was expected on the day.

Despite widespread warnings from land rights campaigners for buyers not to attend the auction, around 200 people travelled to Craden Hill for the auction.

The sale took place with a large private security presence on the farm as well as uniformed gardaí in attendance.

Many buyers were photographed by debt relief campaigners as they entered the farm for the auction.

Any foreign buyers who were identified by campaigners were verbally challenged on the roadway leading into the farm about their attendance at the asset sale.

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