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The latest female CEO in the Fortune 500 breaks a new barrier

Beth Kowitt writes, "Agribusiness company Land O’Lakes has named Beth Ford its new president and CEO, appointing her to the top job at a challenging and tumultuous period for the agriculture industry.

When Ford—who was previously the chief operating officer of the $14 billion cooperative—takes on the role on August 1, she will become one of 25 women running a Fortune 500 company.

With the promotion, she also joins an even smaller group: By Fortune’s count, Ford will be the third openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company and the first woman. Ford said it didn’t even come up in her discussions with the board. But she conceded that 'it’s not nothing.'

Ford takes over as Land O’Lakes is contending with tariffs on U.S. dairy goods that were put into effect in retaliation for President Trump’s trade war.

'We’re managing through them quite well,' Ford said, but 'getting to some level of certainty on trade agreements is important. It allows businesses to understand what the rules are and playing field is so that they can manage their business and invest appropriately.'

During her tenure, Ford has helped the cooperative look beyond its core dairy business for growth, investing in technology and R&D such as its ag-tech platform, WinField, and satellite technology company, GeoSys."

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