USDA Remote Grading Pilot for Beef

In January 2024, USDA launched a pilot program to explore a new method of service delivery to beef packers. Matching imaging technology with robust data management and program oversight, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) developed a process for determining the official quality grading and certification of carcass beef remotely.

Official grades, including USDA Prime and USDA Choice, accurately communicate meat quality across the supply chain among producers, packers, processors, distributors, and consumers. While more than 90 percent of fed beef in the U.S. is officially graded, the service is almost exclusively used in larger packing operations. By eliminating most travel expenses incurred for retaining a USDA Grader at a packing facility, the Remote Grading Pilot for Beef (RGP Pilot) can dramatically reduce the overall cost of service for independent beef packers, in particular those who may only need five or even 50 carcasses graded at a time.

The RGP Pilot utilizes imaging technology and digital data collection to mirror what the USDA Grader does when physically in the packing facility. The RGP Pilot follows initial testing conducted by AMS in 2023 and provides USDA an opportunity to expand testing and engage a larger stakeholder audience in the further development of the program. The pilot will also allow AMS to gather additional information on actual costs involved, and the level of surveillance necessary to ensure program integrity, before formalizing this option as part of the USDA Quality Grading Service.


For general inquiries regarding RGP Pilot, contact the AMS Livestock and Poultry Program at

Sara Hernandez, Agricultural Marketing Specialist
USDA, AMS Livestock and Poultry Program