The new Pasturefed Cattle Assurance System (PCAS) is gaining momentum across Australia, with around 100 beef producers now either certified or undergoing final audits.
Launched earlier this year, PCAS allows cattle producers to market their beef as “grass-fed”, and is promising to deliver premium prices to those who are certified.
Lisa Cotter, from the Cattle Council, says while producers and meat processors have shown strong support for the system, retailers have been more cautious.
“One of the key concerns that retailers bring up is the need for consistent supply for 52 weeks of the year,” she said.
“So that is obviously a huge hurdle for the program that we will need to overcome, and hopefully we will do this in the near future.”
Speaking at a field day near Alice Springs, Ms Cotter says the uptake of PCAS in the Northern Territory has been particularly slow, but interest is building.
“We have at least one certified producer, and I was just speaking with a gentlemen who’s neighbour actually sent cattle away and was really happy with the price he got in Naracoorte,” she said.
“And we have a few others that are in the pipeline to be audited.
“I think the on-farm audit aspect around the certification program definitely puts producers off, because many have never had an on-farm audit before.
“And the record keeping requirements that go with an on-farm audit can be quite daunting.”
Producers have also raised concerns about on-farm audits being conducted yearly, but Ms Cotter says that requirement won’t change anytime soon.
“It is a big concern for us as well. We understand that the management practices don’t change yearly,” she said.
“However, because the program is a certification, it has to report to an international level, to comply with all other certified branded products.
“So it is something that is out of our control currently.
“We would like to see if there was some sort of online or a non farm-based audit we could use after the initial audit, but currently it is something that we can’t avoid.”