Published March 1, 2008 | March 2008 issue
In hopes of adding value for beef processors as well as cattle ranchers that supply them, late last year the state Department of Agriculture began offering beef grading services to in-state slaughterhouses. Such grading isn't mandatory, but it helps processors improve their retail marketing because it gives consumers a better idea of quality.
The service is an expansion of a six-year-old meat inspection program and was done in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The state currently has 17 slaughter facilities that are state or federally inspected. But grading is not part of the inspection process, and processors have to pay for such services.
In the past, processors that wanted grading had to have an inspector flown in at their cost. Processors still have to pay similar labor costs for the state grading service, but travel and lodging costs will be significantly lower.
—Ronald A. Wirtz