THE RNA is dangling a big lure to hook record nominations for the 2015 Paddock to Palate competition.
Competitors will now be vying for a whopping $45,000 cash prize pool - up from just $7000 in 2014.
The move will easily make Paddock to Palate the richest competition of its kind in Australia, and has RNA claiming it could be unparalleled globally.
RNA has also added a new class to the competition with the addition of the trade class (class 38) for steers fed for 70 days.
RNA chief executive Brendan Christou said the two classes would cover both the domestic and export markets, ensuring a better representation of the commercial operation of the Australian beef industry from paddock to palate.
"The RNA is a very proud champion of agriculture and we are delighted to be able to bring some early Christmas cheer considering the crippling impact drought is having," he said.
"It (Paddock to Palate) is regarded as the most prestigious and comprehensive beef supply chain competition in the nation, as it follows the product all the way from the paddock to the consumer."
Now in its 18th year, Paddock to Palate has earned a reputation among commercial and stud producers as the competition to win, largely because of a comprehensive format.
The competition is four-phased, made up of the best aggregate weight gain over 100 days (70 days for trade), a carcase competition, MSA eating quality competition and finishing in a beef taste-off.
The exhibitor who polls the highest aggregate score across these four categories is then awarded the overall prize.
Speaking after his 2014 overall Paddock to Palate win, Spencer Morgan, The Grove Shorthorns, Condamine, explained why the competition was so coveted by beef producers.
"The reason we think this competition is so relevant is that it's unbiased - all the cattle are entered into the feedlot on the same day and fed the same ration under the same conditions," he said. "The results provide a good benchmark on where your cattle are sitting in the industry."
Under the 2015 prize allocation, the overall winners of both classes will still take home $5000 but more money will be on offer for placegetters, with second place pocketing $2500 and third $1500.
The winners of the weight-gain and carcase competition components of both classes will be handed $3000, second $1500 and third $500. The previous prize pool for these classes was just $200, $100 and $50 respectively. There will also be $1500 on offer for the highest individual weight gain for each class and an extra $1000 for the champion single carcase.
The largest sponsor remains Mort & Co, but JBS Australia, Rabobank, Zoetis, Elanco Health, Virbac, Performance Feeds, Black Truck Sales, GDL, and Thompson Longhorn have all contributed to the massive prize pool. Queensland Country Life is also a co-sponsor.
A spokesperson for the RNA also moved this week to clarify the future of the popular Meat Hall, which was demolished after the 2014 Ekka as part of the redevelopment of the RNA showgrounds. "The Meat Hall will definitely feature at the 2015 Ekka, it will just be in a different location and we haven't confirmed that yet."