Development of a pricing system for beef cattle which more accurately rewards their value
Although the EUROP pricing grid does provide a means of comparing the level and direction of movement in cattle prices across Europe, the current price reporting mechanism, either auction sales or deadweight quotes, provides little feedback to producers as to the yield and value of the carcase. The price reporting is based on visual assessment of conformation and fat cover.
The development of assessment techniques for carcase evaluation has progressed rapidly over the past decade. The most developed option is Video Image Analysis ( VIA) but other options exist  . These non-destructive means of carcase evaluation offer the potential for producers to be more accurately paid for carcase yield and to gain better feedback of the market value of their cattle.
Price reporting systems in other parts of the world are similarly based on visual assessment. However, they offer some interesting insights into how this visual assessment can better reflect the commercial value of a carcase. Price reporting in the United States, for example, is based around the voluntary grading programme run by the United States Department of Agriculture ( USDA). Based largely on visual inspection, it incorporates a system of assessments for marbling and maturity which are then used to define a carcase as Prime, Choice, Select or Standard. The USDA can also make an assessment of yield grade based on hot carcase weight, the thickness of fat over the rib eye, rib eye area and an adjustment for kidney, pelvic and heart fat. In Australia, prices are similarly based on visual assessment of muscle and fat.
Develop a system of deadweight payment which more accurately rewards the yield and value of the carcase.