United States Standards for Grades of Carcass Beef, 57569-57570 [2017-26273]

Download as PDF 57569 Notices Federal Register Vol. 82, No. 233 Wednesday, December 6, 2017 This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains documents other than rules or proposed rules that are applicable to the public. Notices of hearings and investigations, committee meetings, agency decisions and rulings, delegations of authority, filing of petitions and applications and agency statements of organization and functions are examples of documents appearing in this section. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service Comments [Doc. No. AMS–LPS–16–0060–0001] United States Standards for Grades of Carcass Beef Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: The Agricultural Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture is revising the United States Standards for Grades of Carcass Beef (beef standards) to allow dentition and documentation of actual age as additional methods of classifying maturity of carcasses presented to USDA for official quality grading. DATES: These new standards shall be implemented on December 18, 2017. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bucky Gwartney, Standardization Branch, Quality Assessment Division, Livestock, Poultry, and Seed Program, AMS, USDA; 1400 Independence Avenue SW., STOP 0258; Washington, DC 20250–0258; phone (202) 720–1424. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In order to update certain elements in the United States Standards for Grades of Carcass Beef (beef standards), this document makes changes that allow dentition and documentation of actual age as additional methods of classifying maturity of carcasses presented to USDA for official quality grading. Section 203(c) of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946, as amended (7 U.S.C. 1621 et seq.), directs and authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture ‘‘to develop and improve standards of quality, condition, quantity, grade, and packaging and recommend and demonstrate such standards in order to encourage uniformity and consistency in commercial practices.’’ AMS is committed to carrying out this authority in a manner that facilitates the daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:07 Dec 05, 2017 Jkt 244001 marketing of agricultural commodities and makes copies of official standards available upon request. While the beef standards do not appear in the Code of Federal regulations, the updated beef standards—along with other official standards—are maintained by USDA at: https://www.ams.usda.gov/gradesstandards. To change the beef standards, AMS utilized the procedures it published in the August 13, 1997, Federal Register and that appear in 7 CFR part 36. A public request for comment on potential changes to the beef standards was published by AMS in a Notice in the Federal Register (81 FR 57877) on August 24, 2016. AMS received 236 total comments, of which 179 commenters favored revising the beef standards to include dentition and documented age as additional methods for maturity classification and 53 commenters did not support making the changes. Two comments were submitted in duplicate and one comment was submitted in triplicate; each of these respective submissions was counted only once. It is noteworthy that 160 of the 179 favorable comments were the same form letter and were from producers. Using this public feedback, AMS published a notice in the Federal Register on June 19, 2017 (82 FR 27782), requesting comments on a specific change to the beef standards as well as addressing some of the questions raised during the first comment period. AMS received 21 total comments on the June 19, 2017, notice. Fourteen comments were in favor of the proposed changes as written and highlighted the positive effect this would have on beef producers and the industry. The supporting comments represented a large packer/processor, a producer, and several state and national farm-related associations. Commenters who supported the changes cited an anticipated increase in the number of carcasses that would qualify for USDA grades of Prime, Choice, and Select without a significant reduction in palatability for those grades; the anticipated profitability producers would gain by having more carcasses receiving a higher grade; and support for the science-based Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board-funded research that commenters showed in the PO 00000 Frm 00001 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 previous notices. Many agricultural associations that represent cattle producers provided favorable comments in support of the changes. Several organizations urged AMS to make the revisions quickly because the process has been ongoing for some time. Seven of the comments were opposed to the changes and provided a range of reasons. One of the negative commenters identified themselves as a producer. Several commenters asserted that the research studies cited in the previous notices were not significant or large enough or representative enough to make this change. In response, AMS determined that all studies referenced in the previous notices—including those that found that carcasses exhibiting advanced skeletal maturity when determined by dentition to be under 30 months of age (MOA) produced meat that was as palatable in taste tests as meat produced from carcasses that did not exhibit signs of advanced skeletal maturity—were peer-reviewed and adequately designed to answer the study objectives and hypotheses. Statistical significance and statistical power of the test will increase with an increased sample size, in small increments, but add significant costs. Several commenters stated that the changes would produce an inferior product as related to the current grade standards and that this change would benefit only the packing industry and not producers. In response, AMS notes that the majority of grain-finished cattle are harvested at 12 to 24 MOA and usually produce A-maturity beef. In other words, the vast majority of cattle offered for grading will not be affected by this proposed change. That said, a percentage of carcasses that currently are evaluated as B- or C-maturity but are produced from cattle under 30 MOA would be eligible for grading under the proposed system. Based on AMS’s estimates outlined in ‘‘Economic Assessment of the Request to Modernize the U.S. Standards for Grades of Carcass Beef,’’ roughly an additional 1 percent of cattle would be eligible for grading. The research outlined here does not show any trends towards an inferior product being produced if dentition is implemented. E:\FR\FM\06DEN1.SGM 06DEN1 57570 Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 233 / Wednesday, December 6, 2017 / Notices These comments can be accessed at: https://www.regulations.gov/ docketBrowser?rpp=50& so=DESC&sb=postedDate&po=0&dct= PS&D=AMS-LPS-16-0060. The amendments to the beef standards are described below: United States Standards for Grades of Carcass Beef daltland on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with NOTICES 54.104—Application of Standards for Grades of Carcass Beef 1. Amend 54.104 by revising paragraph (k) to read as follows: (k) For steer, heifer, and cow beef, quality of the lean is evaluated by considering its marbling, color, and firmness as observed in a cut surface, in relation to carcass evidences of maturity. The maturity of the carcass is determined through one of three methods: (1) Dentition as monitored by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Carcasses determined to be less than 30 months of age (MOA) will be classified as A-maturity, and with the exception of dark cutting lean characteristics, the final quality grade will be determined by the degree of marbling. Any carcasses under 30 MOA exhibiting advanced skeletal maturity traits (as described for D- and Ematurity) will not be eligible for the Prime, Choice, Select, or Standard grades and will be graded according to their skeletal, lean, and marbling traits accordingly; (2) Documentation of age as verified through USDA-approved programs and by FSIS at the slaughter facility. Carcasses determined to be less than 30 MOA by age verification will be classified as A-maturity and, with the exception of dark cutting lean characteristics, the final quality grade will be determined by the degree of marbling. Any carcasses under 30 MOA exhibiting advanced skeletal maturity traits (as described for D- and Ematurity) will not be eligible for the Prime, Choice, Select, or Standard grades and will be graded according to their skeletal, lean, and marbling traits accordingly; or (3) Through evaluation of the size, shape, and ossification of the bones and cartilages, especially the split chine bones, and the color and texture of the lean flesh. Carcasses determined to be greater than 30 MOA will be eligible for all quality grade classifications with the final quality grade being determined by the evaluation of the degree of marbling and any adjustment factors based on advanced skeletal maturity characteristics. In the split chine bones, ossification changes occur at an earlier VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:07 Dec 05, 2017 Jkt 244001 stage of maturity in the posterior portion of the vertebral column (sacral vertebrae) and at progressively later stages of maturity in the lumbar and thoracic vertebrae. The ossification changes that occur in the cartilages on the ends of the split thoracic vertebrae are especially useful in evaluating maturity and these vertebrae are referred to frequently in the standards. Unless otherwise specified in the standards, whenever reference is made to the ossification of cartilages on the thoracic vertebrae, it shall be construed to refer to the cartilages attached to the thoracic vertebrae at the posterior end of the forequarter. The size and shape of the rib bones are also important considerations in evaluating differences in maturity. In the very youngest carcasses considered as ‘‘beef,’’ the cartilages on the ends of the chine bones show no ossification, cartilage is evident on all of the vertebrae of the spinal column, and the sacral vertebrae show distinct separation. In addition, the split vertebrae usually are soft and porous and very red in color. In such carcasses, the rib bones have only a slight tendency toward flatness. In progressively more mature carcasses, ossification changes become evident first in the bones and cartilages of the sacral vertebrae, then in the lumbar vertebrae, and still later in the thoracic vertebrae. In beef that is very advanced in maturity, all the split vertebrae will be devoid of red color and very hard and flinty, and the cartilages on the ends of all the vertebrae will be entirely ossified. Likewise, with advancing maturity, the rib bones will become progressively wider and flatter, which is shown in very mature beef whose ribs will be very wide and flat. * * * * * Authority: 7 U.S.C. 1621–1627. Dated: December 1, 2017. Bruce Summers, Acting Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service. [FR Doc. 2017–26273 Filed 12–5–17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–02–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Rural Utilities Service Publication of Depreciation Rates Rural Utilities Service, USDA. ACTION: Notice of Depreciation Rates for Telecommunications Plant. AGENCY: The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Utilities Service (RUS) administers rural utilities programs, including the SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Telecommunications Program. RUS announces the depreciation rates for telecommunications plant for the period ending December 31, 2016. DATES: These rates are effective immediately and will remain in effect until rates are available for the period ending December 31, 2017. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Chad Parker, Assistant Administrator, Telecommunications Program, Rural Utilities Service, STOP 1590—Room 5151, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250–1590. Telephone: (202) 720–9556. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: In 7 CFR part 1737, Pre-Loan Policies and Procedures Common to Insured and Guaranteed Telecommunications Loans, § 1737.70(e) explains the depreciation rates that are used by RUS in its feasibility studies. Section 1737.70(e)(2) refers to median depreciation rates published by RUS for all borrowers. The following chart provides those rates, compiled by RUS, for the reporting period ending December 31, 2016: MEDIAN DEPRECIATION RATES OF RURAL UTILITIES SERVICE BORROWERS BY EQUIPMENT CATEGORY FOR PERIOD ENDING DECEMBER 31, 2016 Telecommunications plant category 1. Land and Support Assets: a. Motor vehicles ............... b. Aircraft ........................... c. Special purpose vehicles ................................ d. Garage and other work equipment ...................... e. Buildings ....................... f. Furniture and office equipment ...................... g. General purpose computers ............................. 2. Central Office Switching: a. Digital ............................ b. Analog & Electro-mechanical ......................... c. Operator Systems ......... 3. Central Office Transmission: a. Radio Systems .............. b. Circuit equipment .......... 4. Information origination/termination: a. Station apparatus .......... b. Customer premises wiring .................................. c. Large private branch exchanges ......................... d. Public telephone terminal equipment ............ e. Other terminal equipment ............................... 5. Cable and wire facilities: a. Aerial cable—poles ....... b. Aerial cable—metal ....... E:\FR\FM\06DEN1.SGM 06DEN1 Depreciation rate 16.67 11.70 12.50 10.00 3.30 10.00 20.00 9.44 10.00 9.55 10.00 10.00 11.90 10.30 10.96 11.78 10.20 6.00 6.00

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 233 (Wednesday, December 6, 2017)]
[Notices]
[Pages 57569-57570]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-26273]


========================================================================
Notices
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains documents other than rules 
or proposed rules that are applicable to the public. Notices of hearings 
and investigations, committee meetings, agency decisions and rulings, 
delegations of authority, filing of petitions and applications and agency 
statements of organization and functions are examples of documents 
appearing in this section.

========================================================================


Federal Register / Vol. 82, No. 233 / Wednesday, December 6, 2017 / 
Notices

[[Page 57569]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

[Doc. No. AMS-LPS-16-0060-0001]


United States Standards for Grades of Carcass Beef

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Agricultural Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of 
Agriculture is revising the United States Standards for Grades of 
Carcass Beef (beef standards) to allow dentition and documentation of 
actual age as additional methods of classifying maturity of carcasses 
presented to USDA for official quality grading.

DATES: These new standards shall be implemented on December 18, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Bucky Gwartney, Standardization 
Branch, Quality Assessment Division, Livestock, Poultry, and Seed 
Program, AMS, USDA; 1400 Independence Avenue SW., STOP 0258; 
Washington, DC 20250-0258; phone (202) 720-1424.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 
    In order to update certain elements in the United States Standards 
for Grades of Carcass Beef (beef standards), this document makes 
changes that allow dentition and documentation of actual age as 
additional methods of classifying maturity of carcasses presented to 
USDA for official quality grading.
    Section 203(c) of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946, as 
amended (7 U.S.C. 1621 et seq.), directs and authorizes the Secretary 
of Agriculture ``to develop and improve standards of quality, 
condition, quantity, grade, and packaging and recommend and demonstrate 
such standards in order to encourage uniformity and consistency in 
commercial practices.'' AMS is committed to carrying out this authority 
in a manner that facilitates the marketing of agricultural commodities 
and makes copies of official standards available upon request. While 
the beef standards do not appear in the Code of Federal regulations, 
the updated beef standards--along with other official standards--are 
maintained by USDA at: https://www.ams.usda.gov/grades-standards. To 
change the beef standards, AMS utilized the procedures it published in 
the August 13, 1997, Federal Register and that appear in 7 CFR part 36.

Comments

    A public request for comment on potential changes to the beef 
standards was published by AMS in a Notice in the Federal Register (81 
FR 57877) on August 24, 2016. AMS received 236 total comments, of which 
179 commenters favored revising the beef standards to include dentition 
and documented age as additional methods for maturity classification 
and 53 commenters did not support making the changes. Two comments were 
submitted in duplicate and one comment was submitted in triplicate; 
each of these respective submissions was counted only once. It is 
noteworthy that 160 of the 179 favorable comments were the same form 
letter and were from producers. Using this public feedback, AMS 
published a notice in the Federal Register on June 19, 2017 (82 FR 
27782), requesting comments on a specific change to the beef standards 
as well as addressing some of the questions raised during the first 
comment period.
    AMS received 21 total comments on the June 19, 2017, notice. 
Fourteen comments were in favor of the proposed changes as written and 
highlighted the positive effect this would have on beef producers and 
the industry. The supporting comments represented a large packer/
processor, a producer, and several state and national farm-related 
associations. Commenters who supported the changes cited an anticipated 
increase in the number of carcasses that would qualify for USDA grades 
of Prime, Choice, and Select without a significant reduction in 
palatability for those grades; the anticipated profitability producers 
would gain by having more carcasses receiving a higher grade; and 
support for the science-based Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research 
Board-funded research that commenters showed in the previous notices. 
Many agricultural associations that represent cattle producers provided 
favorable comments in support of the changes. Several organizations 
urged AMS to make the revisions quickly because the process has been 
ongoing for some time.
    Seven of the comments were opposed to the changes and provided a 
range of reasons. One of the negative commenters identified themselves 
as a producer. Several commenters asserted that the research studies 
cited in the previous notices were not significant or large enough or 
representative enough to make this change. In response, AMS determined 
that all studies referenced in the previous notices--including those 
that found that carcasses exhibiting advanced skeletal maturity when 
determined by dentition to be under 30 months of age (MOA) produced 
meat that was as palatable in taste tests as meat produced from 
carcasses that did not exhibit signs of advanced skeletal maturity--
were peer-reviewed and adequately designed to answer the study 
objectives and hypotheses. Statistical significance and statistical 
power of the test will increase with an increased sample size, in small 
increments, but add significant costs. Several commenters stated that 
the changes would produce an inferior product as related to the current 
grade standards and that this change would benefit only the packing 
industry and not producers. In response, AMS notes that the majority of 
grain-finished cattle are harvested at 12 to 24 MOA and usually produce 
A-maturity beef. In other words, the vast majority of cattle offered 
for grading will not be affected by this proposed change. That said, a 
percentage of carcasses that currently are evaluated as B- or C-
maturity but are produced from cattle under 30 MOA would be eligible 
for grading under the proposed system. Based on AMS's estimates 
outlined in ``Economic Assessment of the Request to Modernize the U.S. 
Standards for Grades of Carcass Beef,'' roughly an additional 1 percent 
of cattle would be eligible for grading. The research outlined here 
does not show any trends towards an inferior product being produced if 
dentition is implemented.

[[Page 57570]]

    These comments can be accessed at: https://www.regulations.gov/docketBrowser?rpp=50&so=DESC&sb=postedDate&po=0&dct=PS&D=AMS-LPS-16-0060.
    The amendments to the beef standards are described below:

United States Standards for Grades of Carcass Beef

54.104--Application of Standards for Grades of Carcass Beef

    1. Amend 54.104 by revising paragraph (k) to read as follows:
    (k) For steer, heifer, and cow beef, quality of the lean is 
evaluated by considering its marbling, color, and firmness as observed 
in a cut surface, in relation to carcass evidences of maturity. The 
maturity of the carcass is determined through one of three methods:
    (1) Dentition as monitored by the Food Safety and Inspection 
Service (FSIS). Carcasses determined to be less than 30 months of age 
(MOA) will be classified as A-maturity, and with the exception of dark 
cutting lean characteristics, the final quality grade will be 
determined by the degree of marbling. Any carcasses under 30 MOA 
exhibiting advanced skeletal maturity traits (as described for D- and 
E-maturity) will not be eligible for the Prime, Choice, Select, or 
Standard grades and will be graded according to their skeletal, lean, 
and marbling traits accordingly;
    (2) Documentation of age as verified through USDA-approved programs 
and by FSIS at the slaughter facility. Carcasses determined to be less 
than 30 MOA by age verification will be classified as A-maturity and, 
with the exception of dark cutting lean characteristics, the final 
quality grade will be determined by the degree of marbling. Any 
carcasses under 30 MOA exhibiting advanced skeletal maturity traits (as 
described for D- and E-maturity) will not be eligible for the Prime, 
Choice, Select, or Standard grades and will be graded according to 
their skeletal, lean, and marbling traits accordingly; or
    (3) Through evaluation of the size, shape, and ossification of the 
bones and cartilages, especially the split chine bones, and the color 
and texture of the lean flesh. Carcasses determined to be greater than 
30 MOA will be eligible for all quality grade classifications with the 
final quality grade being determined by the evaluation of the degree of 
marbling and any adjustment factors based on advanced skeletal maturity 
characteristics. In the split chine bones, ossification changes occur 
at an earlier stage of maturity in the posterior portion of the 
vertebral column (sacral vertebrae) and at progressively later stages 
of maturity in the lumbar and thoracic vertebrae. The ossification 
changes that occur in the cartilages on the ends of the split thoracic 
vertebrae are especially useful in evaluating maturity and these 
vertebrae are referred to frequently in the standards. Unless otherwise 
specified in the standards, whenever reference is made to the 
ossification of cartilages on the thoracic vertebrae, it shall be 
construed to refer to the cartilages attached to the thoracic vertebrae 
at the posterior end of the forequarter. The size and shape of the rib 
bones are also important considerations in evaluating differences in 
maturity. In the very youngest carcasses considered as ``beef,'' the 
cartilages on the ends of the chine bones show no ossification, 
cartilage is evident on all of the vertebrae of the spinal column, and 
the sacral vertebrae show distinct separation. In addition, the split 
vertebrae usually are soft and porous and very red in color. In such 
carcasses, the rib bones have only a slight tendency toward flatness. 
In progressively more mature carcasses, ossification changes become 
evident first in the bones and cartilages of the sacral vertebrae, then 
in the lumbar vertebrae, and still later in the thoracic vertebrae. In 
beef that is very advanced in maturity, all the split vertebrae will be 
devoid of red color and very hard and flinty, and the cartilages on the 
ends of all the vertebrae will be entirely ossified. Likewise, with 
advancing maturity, the rib bones will become progressively wider and 
flatter, which is shown in very mature beef whose ribs will be very 
wide and flat.
* * * * *

    Authority:  7 U.S.C. 1621-1627.

    Dated: December 1, 2017.
Bruce Summers,
Acting Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-26273 Filed 12-5-17; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P