As we come to the end of June, Irish beef prices are at their highest ever level.
The forecasts of an increasing worldwide demand in emerging countries such as China and Brazil, coupled with a rundown of herds in the critical Texas area of the US because of drought and in Argentina because of a swing to tillage, have been borne out.
Coupled with that, we have a new emphasis in Europe and particularly in Britain on a traceable, quality beef product.
Ireland is well placed to benefit from these developments. The approach to the productivity of our beef farms has fundamentally changed in the last few years.
The rise in grain prices has put a new emphasis on grass. The first phase of a three-year co-operation between the industry (including FBD), Teagasc and ourselves demonstrated clearly to a wide audience, the capacity to lift margins in Irish grass-based cattle farming.
This has been helped by the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme, which placed well thought-through animal health, husbandry and data recording obligations on participants.
All of these factors are being joined by a realisation of the productivity gains possible from bulls as steer wintering systems came under severe profitability pressure.
To cash in on the productivity gains in bull beef has presented a whole new range of challenges, specifically how to maximise performance at grass.
Justin McCarthy reports on the grazing and feeding bull trials being carried out in Teagasc Grange with the support of the Kepak Group.
These are pivotal to providing pointers for bull producing farmers.
While the bull beef production system has the potential to be highly efficient, it requires an exceptionally high level of management, especially with challenging ground conditions like this year.
Poorly managed bull beef systems neither deliver for the farmer nor the consumer.
Until now, the industry has been in unchartered territory in relation to the most efficient production systems and the effect on meat eating quality in moving from steer systems to well managed bull beef systems.
This project will tackle both areas and establish parameters based on independent science.
We will follow with interest, while on pages 24 and 25, Justin reports on the highly commercial projects being operated to commercially produce bull beef from dairy bred bull calves.
Again, the proportion of gain that can come from grass is the critical factor in the system's profitability.
But all the bull systems are heavy users of meal in the final finishing stages.
We have no advantage in grain prices or maize production in this country.
Normally, our feed grain costs more than in Britain or on the continent and maize silage needs plastic at about €100 per acre additional cost as an insurance. Grass, especially grazed, is the only real Irish advantage.
The other side of the "let's beat the cost spiral coin" is the development of the Angus and Hereford, especially the Angus certified schemes.
This is delivering in a steer-based system outstanding quality, maximum utilisation of grass with low grain inputs and a significant premium.
This is especially the case in Britain and on the growing German market.
We are seeing the Irish beef industry become much more specialised and specific production systems much more focused on key individual markets.
It is likely that the research and advice will have to also be split along similar lines. It will be up to individual farmers to weigh up the pros and cons of different systems and how they can best deliver profits within their own farm gates.