WASHINGTON (January 19, 2024) – Today, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) welcomed the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) announcement that the agency is pursuing a Remote Grading Pilot Program for beef. The pilot program will allow a USDA meat grader to assign grades from a remote location, increasing the grading options available to producers who sell into smaller, local processing facilities.
“The USDA quality grades of prime, choice, and select are instantly recognized by consumers and an important way for cattle producers to be rewarded for raising high-quality beef,” said NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane. “NCBA is glad that USDA is launching this Remote Grading Pilot Program and expanding opportunities for meat grading to occur in smaller, local processing facilities. This will increase marketing opportunities for cattle producers and help them capture more value from their product.”
The USDA quality grades have become recognized by consumers as important indicators of beef quality, flavor, and eating experience. While many large meat processing plants provide this grading, the costs of maintaining a USDA grader on-site are often too high for smaller, local, and regional processing facilities. This pilot program will help ensure that smaller processors have access to USDA grading too, which in turn benefits the cattle producers who sell to these smaller processors by ensuring that their beef receives a quality grade as well.
NCBA looks forward to working with USDA to implement and evaluate this pilot program.