The board of farmer-owned dairy processing co-operative Dairy Farmers of America has named Rick Smith as president and chief executive officer.

Smith, who is currently DFA's president and chief operating officer, will assume the role of CEO on 1 January 2006.

"We are delighted to have a proven dairy leader like Rick Smith to take DFA into the future," said Tom Camerlo, chairman of DFA's board of directors. "He understands the dairy industry, the DFA organization and, most importantly, the priorities of the dairy farmer members whom he serves."

Smith entered the dairy industry in 1982 when he joined Dairylea Cooperative Inc. (Dairylea) as vice president and general counsel.  In 1988, he became CEO of Dairylea, the Northeast's leading agricultural service and milk marketing organization with 5.5 billion pounds of milk marketed annually for 2,500 dairy farmer-members.

This past August, Smith, who had served on DFA's management team since January of 2001, was promoted to president and chief operating officer of DFA. In that position, he had oversight over all business operations including economic and marketing analysis; member, government and public relations; human resources; fluid marketing operations; value-added manufacturing; accounting/treasury; and legal and risk management functions.

 "I am excited about the opportunity to lead this outstanding organization," said Smith. "We will build on DFA's strengths, focus on our 22,000 dairy farmer-members, and, most of all, work hard to stabilize and improve their income, represent their concerns, expand their access to markets, and build opportunities that help to preserve and strengthen their way of life."

Smith will succeed retiring chief executive Gary Hanman. "We deeply appreciate the role that Gary has played in establishing DFA as the nation's premier dairy cooperative," said Camerlo. "We look forward to building on that legacy for the benefit of our farmer members."