ARLINGTON, Va. – Former US Dept. of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will join the US Dairy Export Council (USDEC) as its president and CEO, effective Feb. 1. USDEC is a non-profit, independent organization focused on increasing the global demand for US dairy products and ingredients. Vilsack served as agriculture secretary through President Obama’s two administrations. President-elect Trump has not yet named Vilsack’s successor.

Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture
Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of US Dairy Export Council

"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," Vilsack said. "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."

In Vilsack’s new role he will work with industry leaders to develop a long-term vision for the US dairy market. He will provide strategic leadership and oversight of USDEC's global promotional and research activities, regulatory affairs and trade policy initiatives. He will also serve as the organization's primary spokesperson and ambassador.

"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," said Thomas Gallagher, CEO of Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), the organization that 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 preeminent choice to take the helm of USDEC. I look forward to working with him."

Additionally, Vilsack will work with other dairy organizations such as the Innovation Center for US Dairy, the International Dairy Foods Association and the National Milk Producers Federation to address the needs of producers, processors and cooperatives, ingredient suppliers and export traders. 

"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. 

Vilsack will succeed Tom Suber, who served as president of USDEC since its founding in 1995, and retired at the end of 2016. 

"We thank Tom Suber for his tremendous contributions to the growth of US dairy exports and elevating US dairy's position globally. He leaves an impressive legacy at USDEC," Gallagher said.

USDEC has more than 100 dairy industry, dairy exporter and affiliated entity members. The organization has staff members throughout the US as well as in Mexico, South America, Asia, the Middle East and Europe.