The U.S. Dairy Export Council selected former U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack as president and CEO, effective Feb. 1. Vilsack will succeed Tom Suber, who served as president of USDEC since its founding in 1995, and retired at the end of 2016.
USDEC is a non-profit, independent organization that seeks to enhance the global demand for U.S. dairy products and ingredients. USDEC has more than 100 dairy industry, dairy exporter and affiliated entity members. Its work is supported by staff across the United States and internationally in Mexico, South America, Asia, the Middle East and Europe.
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, according to USDEC’s announcement. This includes working with industry leaders to develop a long-term vision for building sales and consumer trust in U.S. dairy.
“The global dairy market is more competitive today than ever. Ambitious trade agreements, reasonable labeling 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 organization that represents the broad interests of U.S. dairy and founded USDEC in 1995.
“Secretary Vilsack is a proven leader on global issues ranging from child nutrition and food security to biotechnology and sustainable agriculture. He shares the dairy community’s commitment to advancing responsible solutions to global challenges and collaboration across the industry,” said Paul Rovey, USDEC Chairman and Arizona dairy farmer.
Under Suber’s leadership, global U.S. dairy exports showed significant growth, rising from the equivalent of roughly 5 percent of U.S. milk production to a high of 15.5 percent. Suber was a Dairy Foods contributing editor who wrote the Global Insights column.