Talks involving representatives of the meat industry, farming associations and Government agencies to try to resolve a dispute over beef prices adjourned after 2am this morning.

Among the commitments that were made was to review the "pricing grid", which is how farmers are paid for different types of cattle; to review live weighing in meat factories; and to look at how suckler beef is marketed.

It is expected there will be another meeting next week.

Progress has reportedly been made on a number of issues to boost transparency in the beef sector.

These include movement on the possible development of a price index that would help relate prices for processed beef in the market back to the prices paid to farmers.

It is understood Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed spoke to the parties by phone at around 2am in order to address a stalemate that had arisen.

Sources also indicated that there had been progress on agreeing a review of the specifications that determine what price is paid for cattle.

Progress has also been reported on agreeing the terms of reference for a review of the "grid".

The grid is the system by which a grade is allocated to all animals killed in factories and the resulting payment to farmers that result from that grade.

The current grid has been in operation for more than a decade and has been the subject of sustained criticism from some farmers since it was introduced.

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In a statement the Irish Farmers' Association said: "The independent Chairman Michael Dowling will circulate a document based on the proposals that were put forward.

"IFA President Joe Healy said some progress had been made on market transparency and the introduction of a price index.

"There is also a commitment to look at the market specifications that impact on price that exist in the grid.

"It is expected that the talks will re-convene on Thursday or Monday next."

ICSA President Edmond Phelan agreed that progress had been made but warned that more work needed to be done to protect farmers.

He said: "Beef price is well below the cost of production and farmers cannot endure losing money hand over fist.

"Clearly there are a variety of issues at play in terms of supply and demand in depressed and unstable markets.

"Both processors and retailers need to reflect on the fact that there is only so much losses that can be sustained before the whole house of cards comes falling down."

Minister Creed thanked those involved in the talks and called for "continued constructive dialogue in the coming days".