Irish beef faces a battle for slice of US market
I was surprised to hear the Nebraskan rancher I was visiting tell me that he'd really welcome Irish beef into the massive US beef market.
What I hadn't initially realised of course was that he wanted more competition in the US market to prevent prices becoming any more heated in case it turned more people off buying beef in the long-term.
Instead, he wants lots of cheap beef to keep coming in to fill the US's massive annual requirement for burger beef until the US ranchers can rebuild herd numbers again.
For the last four years, successive droughts saw him reduce his cow numbers by 66pc, driving beef prices to record highs of close to €4.90/kg liveweight.
I've seen the efficiency of a US beef system first hand - massive feedlots fattening up to 270,000 animals a year, cheap feed from GM maize, routine use of growth hormones and antibiotics.Suckler farmers able to out-winter cows on rented maize stubbles for just $1/day.
It will turn on the tap of supplies at €2/kg as soon as the weather plays ball again.
In case you're wondering, America's beef farmers scoff at the notion that this dry spell is anything more than part of the cyclical droughts they've been enduring for the last 100 years.
Not only is the US system one of the most efficient in the world, it also produces meat that has a higher marbling of fat, resulting in more succulent steaks.