Talks between groups representing farmers and Meat Industry Ireland aimed at resolving the dispute over beef prices finished in the early hours of this morning with a document accepted by all sides. 

However, farmers' groups said that while some progress was made, the main issue over pricing remained unresolved.

The deal includes a commitment to review how cattle are graded by factories, and the specifications demanded of farmers and producers. 

Beef Plan Movement representatives said that they will bring the document back to their members, but will have to assess it in the "cold light of day".

They could not say whether it would mean no more protests in future at factories.

Those protesting said they used to make between €10 and €20 a head per animal, but now lose between €150 and €200 per animal.

The Irish Farmers' Association said that while progress was made at the talks, the prices paid to beef farmers will still be too low. 

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed, who joined the talks yesterday after two days of negotiations last week had failed to produce a deal, said what was agreed this morning lays the foundation for better relations between farmers and factories.

In a statement, Mr Creed said progress was made on a wide array of areas including supply chain transparency.

"After long and detailed negotiations, stakeholders have reached agreement on very significant issues. Progress was made on important initiatives aimed at improving transparency along the supply chain, and improving communication between industry and farmers," he said.

The Department of Agriculture said the agreement includes commitments on a review of the grid, promotional incentives for the beef sector, and market transparency among other issues.