US Dairy Export Council names Harden as president

Krysta Harden has been promoted from chief operating officer to president and CEO of the US Dairy Export Council, as former president and CEO Tom Vilsack has now been confirmed as secretary of agriculture for the Biden administration.

Harden was named chief operating officer in May 2020. During that time, she continued her role as executive vice-president of global environmental strategy for Dairy Management Inc (DMI), which manages the national dairy checkoff for 34,000 dairy farmers.

Harden becomes only the third president and CEO to lead US DEC since its founding by DMI in 1995 and is its first female chief executive. In her new role, Harden will leverage a strong background within agriculture, sustainability, and food policy in fulfilling USDEC’s mission to promote dairy exports, and enrich the well-being of people, communities, and the planet.

“Krysta has been an incredible addition to the DMI and USDEC staff and will do an excellent job for dairy farmers at USDEC,” says Thomas Gallagher, DMI CEO. “We are extremely fortunate to have someone with Krysta’s background and experience in agriculture and with USDEC ready to step into this critical leadership role.”

Before joining DMI, Harden served as chief sustainability officer with Corteva and DuPont. Harden also spent seven years working with Vilsack at USDA, nearly three of those years as deputy secretary, following posts as Vilsack’s USDA chief of staff and assistant secretary for Congressional relations. At USDA, Harden helped shape agriculture policy and led the implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill. Prior to joining USDA, Harden was CEO of the National Association of Conservation Districts, providing national leadership for thousands of conservation districts across the nation.

In her new role, Harden will direct a staff of dairy trade specialists, trade policy professionals, a global marketing team, a strategy, and insights team, and oversee eight international offices working to facilitate dairy product and ingredient application knowledge, identify market opportunities, monitor regulatory activity and work toward improving the business climate for US dairy. Harden also will continue to be active in global organisations, including the World Economic Forum, Global Child Nutrition Foundation, and the upcoming UN World Food Systems Summit.

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