There is a possibility that some Irish dairy produce could be defined as ‘organic’ under the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the US.

ICOS says that, in recent discussions, is was indicated there is a possibility of defining some Irish dairy as organic, as Irish systems conform to many US definitions, but it warned that this is in its very early stages.

Under the negotiations, dairy geographical indicators, especially in cheese have been a major stumbling block for the Americans and other EU countries.

ICOS was recently again invited to meet the negotiating teams covering the Agricultural chapters of TTIP, during the eight round of negotiations in Brussels.

“Much of the discussions on the day, focused on the dairy elements of the agreement where we as an industry have offensive interests, especially in higher value exports.

“Cheese exports to the US continue to increase, even in the absence of an overall agreement but we highlighted difficulties that we were experiencing currently in getting our product into the US market.”

Commission figures released recently week show that overall August to November 2014 EU agriculture exports to the US were €5.96 billion, up 9% on last year, and double overall EU agri exports to China.

According to ICOS, other issues discussed include the US Grade A Pasteurised Milk Ordinance, and the restrictions that places on Irish and EU product in being accepted in the US.

“We are looking at this closely through the lens of our co-operative based mart and breeding interests, and also from the dairy beef interests of our members. While it is clear that the US are looking for a major increase in beef quota access to the EU, it is a red line that any increase will have to be on the level of our food safety standards.”

It is thought that the next, ninth, round of negotiations will see a published ‘exchange of officers’ between the two sides.

However, ICOS says the sentiment in Brussels though is that there will be no significant move on TTIP until the Americans conclude the TPP with Pacific based countries, and that is pencilled in for conclusion in the summer, leaving a very small window of opportunity for a TTIP deal before the American political cycle swings to presidential election mode.