USA – The American, member-owned agricultural cooperative Land O’Lakes has appointed Beth Ford as new president and chief executive officer effective 1 August 2018.

Beth Ford becomes the first female chief executive in the company’s history after previously serving as chief operating officer in charge of its three largest businesses since 2017.

She succeeds Chris Policinski who announced his retirement in June after leading the firm since 2005.

Ford joined Land O’Lakes in 2011 as executive vice-president of supply chain and operations, then became head of the company’s Dairy Foods and Purina Animal Nutrition businesses.

In an interview, she said her predecessor left the company in good shape, both financially and strategically by focusing on innovation and broadening the focus of the cooperative far beyond dairy products.

“At a time of unprecedented change in the agriculture and food industries, no person is better suited to lead us into the future than Beth Ford,” said Pete Kappelman, chairman of the Land O’Lakes board.

“Since joining our company in 2011, Beth has proven she’s not afraid of hard work and she sees every challenge as an opportunity to deliver more value for our cooperative.

She’s built a track record of success in a wide array of leadership roles across a decades-long career, and in her seven years at Land O’Lakes, she has earned the trust and respect of our members, employees and customers.

We are thrilled to have someone of such strong qualifications and character to build on the legacy of growth that Land O’Lakes has established.”

Its operations include dairy, seed, chemical, consulting, agricultural technology and animal feed businesses.

Its division, WinField United posted sales of US$5.7 billion and a profit of US$230 million while animal feed business posted sales of US$3.7 billion and a profit of US$92 million in 2017.

Dairy foods business including Land O’Lakes branded butter and milk powder sold internationally, posted sales of US$3.9 billion and a profit of US$71 million in the year.