Working out the value of your pen of 20 steers is no easy task.

The difference between the official price and what ordinary farmers get quoted can be up to 18p/kg. At this rate, for a load of 20 cattle, the discrepancy is almost as much as giving one away free.

For the same weight and grade beast, a difference of up to £72/head can appear, which quickly adds up in the accounts.

Aberdeen Angus-sired animals regularly get a top-up, along with other native breeds, organics, and premium schemes. But beef farmers feel the price range is too wide to be chalked up to just these bonuses.

Many abattoirs offer volume bonuses to regular consignors, which is unfair to smaller producers and burdens the modest family farm. But perhaps this is just business and under current rules, processors are perfectly entitled to offer different prices to different people.

By law, each animal’s grade and weight must be reported with a price attached so that a national price can be published.

The National Beef Association’s call for transparency is a step in the right direction, but transparency doesn’t necessarily mean better prices.

It can be quite the opposite, as Irish factories must publish much greater price details, but the value of cattle in the Emerald Isle is seldom higher than in GB.

The perceived lack of trust in the beef trade makes it very difficult to scrap the EUROP grid and move to a system focused on increasing eating quality. While the EUROP grid has significant flaws, more farmers have a good idea of how their cattle will grade out before loading them into the lorry. If consignors were paid based on attributes like the tenderness of a steak, a great deal of confidence would be needed in the measurements and their consistency.

Plus, the final price wouldn’t be known until the kill sheet falls into farm emails.

All this against a backdrop of declining beef numbers, a trend that will only accelerate if prices continue to wobble. If poor weather in Russia drives cereal prices up, we will need the beef price to rise accordingly this back end.

Anything less will simply increase the number of cows going down the road.

Another issue that can’t be ignored is the agricultural record on farm safety, which NFUS vice-president Andrew Connon is attempting to tackle.

One of the largest challenges in farming is that margins are too thin to invest in safety measures at the level other sectors do. Other industries have entire departments focused on health and safety, with the ability to pass the costs further down the chain.

Sadly, in a global marketplace, the perennial ship of Brazilian beef or Australian grain is always available if domestic producers can’t sell at the market price.

But despite the challenges, many farmers are working hard to improve their safety record, with far more awareness of the dangers and dozens of events around the country focused on saving lives.

As silage season hits full swing, there is no better time to continue to improve our safety record.