Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has said a template for the future of the beef sector has been agreed between farmers and processors that the whole sector can support.

It comes after nine hours of talks at the Beef Forum.

Mr Coveney said a comprehensive list of key actions had been agreed to address concerns raised by beef farmers in recent months.

On weight specifications, it was agreed that there would be no price penalties based on weight until the end of next year.

On the Quality Payment System, it was agreed that there should be no dual base pricing for breed, age or weight.

Beef processors are to provide a price incentive for all steers and heifers from Quality Assured farms with effect from 1 January 2015.

In addition factories have agreed to engage with their retail customers and third country markets on the issue of the acceptance of a 36-month age limit for animals instead of the 30-month age limit they have been applying.

The Beef Forum will continue to oversee the implementation of the agreement.

IFA President Eddie Downey said good progress was made on all of the key specification issues.

On the separate issue of cattle prices, Mr Downey said the IFA is determined that prices must move on and that increased market returns are passed back to farmers.

He said the thousands of farmers who protested at the factories over the unacceptable €350 price gap with the UK have sent a very strong message that cattle prices must increase.

Speaking on RTÉ's News At One, Mr Downey said the IFA is willing to work with the meat industry.

The IFA's national executive council meets in Dublin today to discuss the agreement.

Meat Industry Ireland welcomed the agreement.

"Committing to a process of negotiation on non-price issues, however tough and prolonged, has been vindicated as the only way of moving this very important €2bn export industry forward", MII Chairman Ciaran Fitzgerald said in a statement.

Speaking on the same programme, Mr Fitzgerald said the price for beef will be dictated by the market.

He also said this time of the year traditionally sees an increase in beef prices.