Former US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will join the US Dairy Export Council organisation as president and CEO, effective 1 February 2017.
USDEC is a non-profit, independent organisation that seeks to enhance the global demand for US dairy products and ingredients.
"Growing the global market for US dairy products is essential to the future of the dairy industry and America's dairy farmers. I've spent my career in public service as a tireless advocate for farmers and American agriculture and can think of no better way to continue this service than by leading the US Dairy Export Council," said Vilsack. "I look forward to partnering with the dynamic team at USDEC as well as agriculture, food industry and key stakeholders at home and abroad to advance the council's mission and strengthen trust in American dairy."
As president and CEO, Vilsack will provide strategic leadership and oversight of USDEC's global promotional and research activities, regulatory affairs and trade policy initiatives. This includes working with industry leaders to develop a long-term vision for building sales and consumer trust in US dairy. Together with the USDEC board, he will create strategies to successfully achieve the shared vision. He will serve as the organisation's primary spokesperson and ambassador to a host of global and domestic stakeholders.
"The global dairy market is more competitive today than ever. Ambitious trade agreements, reasonable labelling and product standards, and other issues are vital to the growth of America's dairy industry," noted Thomas Gallagher, CEO of Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), the umbrella organisation that represents the broad interests of US dairy and founded USDEC in 1995. "Secretary Vilsack's impressive record of leadership and his proven ability to manage complex issues, combined with his breadth and depth of industry knowledge, made him the pre-eminent choice to take the helm of USDEC. I look forward to working with him."
Vilsack will succeed Tom Suber, who served as president of USDEC since its founding in 1995, and retired at the end of 2016. Under Suber's leadership, global US dairy exports showed significant growth, rising from the equivalent of roughly 5% of US milk production to a high of 15.5%.