The U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), Arlington, Va., said its board of directors elected Texas dairy farmer Larry Hancock as its new chairman on Oct. 15. Hancock replaces Paul Rovey, an Arizona farmer who is retiring after serving seven years as chairman and 11 years as vice-chairman of the checkoff-funded USDEC. Rovey was given the honorary title of chairman emeritus.

“I am delighted that Larry Hancock is our new chair and confident his background prepares him well to guide this unique partnership between dairy farmers and suppliers,” said USDEC President and CEO Tom Vilsack. “The U.S. dairy industry owes a deep debt of gratitude to Paul Rovey for the steady, uniting role he played during a period of explosive growth for U.S. dairy exports.”

When Rovey was elected USDEC’s vice-chairman in 2001, annual exports were $1.1 billion. As of last year, the value of exports had more than quadrupled, to $5.6 billion, on Rovey’s watch, USDEC said.

From a volume perspective, 2018 exports set a milk-solids equivalent of 15.8% of all milk produced in the United States. That means one out of six milk tankers leaving American dairy farms ended up in products and ingredients sold overseas.

The election of Hancock came at the end of the USDEC Board of Directors and Membership Meeting at the Swissotel in Chicago.

Hancock runs a 4,200-cow dairy farm in Muleshoe, Texas, about 70 miles northwest of Lubbock. It’s a family-owned and family-managed operation, with Hancock’s wife, Pam, and two of their children.

While running his own farm, Hancock also served the dairy industry in a variety of leadership roles, including treasurer of Dairy Management Inc., USDEC’s parent organization, and also as a board member of the United Dairy Industry Association, USDEC said.

In addition, Hancock is a board member of Dairy Farmers of America, the country’s largest farmer-owned dairy cooperative, and Dairy Max, a checkoff-funded organization that represents farmers in the south-central and southwestern United States.