Bord Bia tells us that Irish beef now has a presence in more than 70 supermarkets across Europe. Some would say that we have finally made it; that we now occupy our rightful place in the affairs of world beef.
But I ask, is this position a strength or a weakness?
Before you call me a heretic or accuse me of anti-patriotism, I make these points:
In essence, I ask if the Irish beef industry would be stronger or weaker if there was a strong buyer from outside the EU retailer grouping to create competition and to boost the price of cattle. In the recent past, the price of beef to the Irish farmer has not been sufficient to prevent the decline of the suckler herd.
For the past year, world beef prices have surged to record levels, yet it is only in the past couple of weeks of extreme scarcity that prices to the Irish farmer have lifted.
I sought comment on the strength or weakness issue from two industry leaders.
"We are not standing still. There are still opportunities within Europe for us to exploit and develop. Our beef exporters are good at forging relationships with caterers and other food service outlets as well as the multiples. Beef carcasses are now broken for various outlets. Customers such as McDonald's are a critical part of the mix.
"There will be niche opportunities outside Europe, but basically we are not competitive in the Middle East against the competition from South America."
"Earlier this year, I was disappointed that our three main beef players did not make a greater effort to fill the beef contract that was on offer from Turkey. The IFA put a lot of work into bringing that tender about. We saw what the Turkish trade did for prices in Germany and it could have done the same for the dairy bulls in Ireland."
At the heart of this issue is the strength of the supermarket multiples and the desire for a mechanism to give farmers leverage to combat this bullyboy power.
In the absence of Government regulation, the best hope of some fair play for farmers is to bring in competition for our cattle.
The irony is that the potential competition is there at this point in time but is not being harnessed. As a result of a surge in world beef prices, I understand that live cattle from Australia and South America are costing at least €3/kg when landed in North Africa and the Middle East. These cattle are the equivalent of our plain Friesians.
This suggests that live shipping from Ireland could return a price of at least €2/kg liveweight. Why has the trade not resumed? Is there an official reluctance to license the boats? Has the beef factory/supermarket axis the power to stop live exports? If the promised dairy herd expansion takes place, there will be a lot more dairy bred males cattle to be sold.
Twenty years ago, when live shipping to Third World countries was common, the Irish cattle herd was growing and farmers were driving new cars. The beef price of the past two years has seen the beef herd shrink and farmers driving semi-vintage models.
The suspicion that primary farmers are screwed by supermarkets was not lessened by the publication of the latest profits from Tesco. Its €4.3bn profit on a turnover of €68bn would even make a dent on the Irish national debt!
Profits from Tesco's Irish operation are not isolated from the overall figure but I understand that, internally, the Irish operation is known as 'treasure island'.
And despite the difficulties in the Irish economy and the excess of shopping space, the Tesco expansion rages on. I understand that the new Tesco store in Naas is its biggest in Europe.
To add to the injury felt by some, each new multiple opening is accompanied by a fanfare about all the jobs that are being created but there's nothing about all the jobs and small trader livelihoods that are being destroyed.