USDA Seeks Feedback On Pork Grade Standards

For the first time in 32 years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing revisions to the U.S. Standards for Grades of Pork Carcasses and is asking for public comment.

USDA sources said the proposed change would help pork producers and processors by better aligning the grades with consumer expectations.

USDA Grade Standards, like the standards for pork, allow producers, businesses and consumers to identify a commodity by uniform groups of similar quality, yield or value. That helps to facilitate the fair marketing of U.S. agricultural products. AMS works with stakeholders to establish and revise U.S. grade standards for nearly 240 agricultural products.

 

RESEARCH SHOWS REVISION NEEDS

 

The current pork standards were last revised in 1985 and are no longer considered by the industry to reflect the value differences in today’s pork products. The proposed change by the Agriculture Marketing Service would allow industry to once again utilize the grade standards as a meaningful tool for communicating pork quality between buyers and sellers.

AMS considers changes to its official grade standards when there is a need to ensure they continue to serve their intended purpose. Extensive research on pork quality, consumer preferences and other factors affecting the marketing of domestic pork provided the basis for the proposed revision.

 

EYES ON 2018 FARM BILL

 

Debate time is approaching on the 2018 farm bill. And interested farmers, producers, processors and others are getting together to thrash out their priorities. There was a recent discussion at the University of Missouri. Producers want to be sure lawmakers retain a strong safety net in U.S. farm policy, said Scott Brown, one of the organizers of the University of Missouri 2018 Farm Bill Summit. Brown says farmers specifically want crop insurance, along with Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage.

“ARC and PLC, I think folks are getting used to those new programs,” Brown told Brownfield Ag News. “Maybe there’s some interest in making changes to them, but by and large I think those are the two things we’d to see at least maintained on the crop side.”

Missouri Pork Association Executive Vice President Don Nikodim was part of a livestock panel pushing for funding the development of a Foot and Mouth Disease vaccine bank. The program would cost $150 million annually for the five-year duration of the farm bill.

Nikodim told Brownfield News the figure “sounds like a lot of money.” But he said “to put it in perspective, economists conservatively estimate that should we get FMD and no way to deal with it, it’s going to amount to about a $200 billion – that’s $200 billion – cost to the United States.”

COLD STORAGE REPORT

Total red meat supplies in freezers were up 4% in September from the previous month but down 5% from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were up 2% from the previous month but down 6% from last year. Frozen pork supplies were up 7% from the previous month but down 4% from last year. Stocks of pork bellies were up 9% from last month but down 17% from last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies on September 30, 2017 were up 1% from the previous month and up 8% from a year ago. Total stocks of chicken were up 5% from the previous month and up 7% from last year.

CATTLE AND BEEF RECAP

Boxed beef cutout values steady to weak on light to moderate demand and offerings. Choice was down 61 cents at $199.25 and select was down 9 cents at $191.05. The choice/select spread was $8.20 and there were 86 loads of fabricated product sent to market. Cash trading in all major regions was at a standstill early Monday. On Friday negotiated cash trade and demand was moderate in all feeding regions. Live prices ranged from $110 to $112. Dressed purchases traded steady compared to last week at $175.00.The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ending October 20 is $154.69. down 10 cents. October feeder cattle futures closed unchanged at 153.625 cents.