"Can this last?" asked the co-op mart delegates. What seems too good to be true often is too good to be true. Prices can fall and rise.
The fact that the South American prices are primarily driven by domestic demand and reduced output suggests that the higher prices can last a while. Only time will tell.
The impact of the higher Brazilian prices is greatest in the beef-deficit markets of Russia, North Africa and the Middle East. Mr Burke said that the opening of the Turkish market lifted the price of R3 bulls in Germany from €3.30 to €3.69/kg. And this market is now open to Irish meat plants.
In an ever-changing scene, Egypt is now paying €2.45/kg liveweight for males delivered. This outlet traditionally took plainer cattle, so €2.45/kg for a plain 600kg Friesian bullock equates to €1,470/hd.
In the halcyon days of the boatloads of Irish cattle going to North Africa, the trade depended on export refunds that were as high as 70pc of the price. Today, if boats could be approved, cattle could be profitably shipped without refund and still return a competitive price to the Irish farmer.
From the marts' viewpoint, the North African live shipping created activity around the rings and could potentially do so again, but the Irish Farm Minister and his Department may not want even more raw material taken from the Irish factories.
Marts, too, must be concerned at the decline in the Irish cattle herd.
Historically, marts were often placed in the centre of towns. When the Celtic Tiger (CT) came, they were suddenly sitting on valuable sites. It's of interest to look at the different owner responses to the CT.
In the east of Ireland, which was dominated by private marts, we have seen widespread closures and redevelopment. The big centres at Naas, Maynooth, Ashbourne, Mullingar, Edgeworthstown and Drogheda are all gone. Carnaross remained open, and, with a huge catchment area, and as a result is now the biggest mart in the country.
In the south, Cork Co-op Marts has effected major rationalisation, closing marts in Mitchelstown, Mallow, Fermoy and Midleton while they opened the new Corrin Centre outside Fermoy. They continue in Bandon, Dungarvan, Macroom and Skibbereen.
In the west, Connacht Gold also halved its operating marts to Ballymote, Balla, Ballinrobe and Mohill. Golden Vale Marts, although no longer a member of ICOS Co-op Marts, has rationalised internally in the mid west with the closure of Rathkeale and Sixmilebridge (although this mart is now set to open under new ownership). In the west midlands, Birr, Roscrea and Nenagh have come together to form Central Auctions.
Elsewhere Kerry has seen little change except for the opening of a mart in Kenmare. Galway, a county with at least nine marts, including private and co-op ventures, has also resisted change.
At last week's conference, the co-op mart managers and board members were given an update on the roles and responsibilities of directors by ICOS Secretary Seamus O'Donohoe. He warned that up to nine State agencies are involved in co-op governance and ignorance of rules is not a defence for directors. He predicted that the Companies Office will increasingly strike off co-ops that are late in submitting annual returns.
Michael Spellman, chairman of the ICOS Livestock and Marts Committee, said that Ireland's €1.3bn Single Farm Payment (SFP) must be protected in the upcoming CAP review. He said that the SFP is key to keeping activity and production on Irish farms which are adhering to the highest standards on animal welfare and traceability.