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USDA Proposes Revision to Beef Grade Standards

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is proposing a revision to the U.S. Standards for Grades of Carcass Beef. The revision would include dentition and documentation of actual age as additional methods of classifying maturity of carcasses for quality grading. USDA quality grades are used as an indication of meat’s tenderness, juiciness, and flavor and is a major factor in determining the value of beef and live cattle.

AMS works with its stakeholders to establish and revise U.S. standards for nearly 240 agricultural products. AMS will consider changes to its official grade standards to ensure they continue to serve their intended purpose. Currently, the beef standards only include skeletal and muscular evidence as a determination of maturity grouping. The proposed change would allow carcasses of grain-fed steers and heifers determined to be less than 30 months old either by dentition or by documentation of actual age to be included in the youngest maturity group for carcasses recognized as “beef” (A maturity) regardless of skeletal evidences of maturity.

A notice will be publish in the Federal Register on June 19, 2017.  Comments may be posted online at, submitted by email to, or sent to: Beef Carcass Revisions, Standardization Branch, Quality Assessment Division; Livestock, Poultry, and Seed Program; Agricultural Marketing Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture; 1400 Independence Ave., SW; Room 3932-S, STOP 0258; Washington, D.C.  20250-0258.

Comments received will be posted without change, including any personal information provided.  All comments should reference the docket number: AMS-LPS-16-0060-0001; the date of submission; and the page number of the issue of the Federal Register.  Comments must be received by August 18, 2017.  If you have any questions, contact Bucky Gwartney, International Marketing Specialist, Quality Assessment Division at (202) 720-1424.

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