USDA Seeks Comment on Whether to Revise the U.S. Standards for Grades of Carcass Beef

August 23, 2016

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is seeking comments on whether or not to amend the U.S. Standards for Grades of Carcass Beef to include dentition and documentation of actual age as an additional determination of maturity grouping for official quality grading.

Currently, the beef standards only include skeletal and muscular evidence as a determination of maturity grouping.  The proposed changes 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 (A maturity grouping) for carcasses recognized as “beef” regardless of skeletal evidences of maturity.

AMS commodity standards are designed to facilitate the orderly marketing of U.S. agricultural products.  The official USDA beef quality grades, including USDA Prime, USDA Choice and USDA Select, enjoy considerable consumer recognition and are a major value determining factor for the cattle and beef supply chain.  At any time, AMS may consider changes to its official grade standards to ensure they continue to serve their intended purpose.  Several industry stakeholders indicated the beef standards should be revised to allow for alternative methods of determining carcass maturity grouping for the purposes of official USDA beef quality grading.

The notice will publish in the Aug. 24, 2016, Federal Register.  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; the date of submission; and the page number of the issue of the Federal Register.  Comments must be received by Oct. 24, 2016.  If you have any questions, contact Bucky Gwartney, International Marketing Specialist, Quality Assessment Division at (202) 720-1424.

Livestock, Poultry, and Seed Program