For the third year in a row, Beth Ford, the president and CEO of Land O’Lakes Inc., has ranked on Fortune’s Top 50 Most Powerful Women list.
Land O’Lakes, a farmer-owned cooperative, has been around for nearly 100 years and is a Fortune 200 food production and agribusiness company. It has long been the driving force behind many rural initiatives, like expanding broadband internet for all. Ford has been at the helm since 2018, after serving in a variety of leadership roles prior to that, including as chief operating officer of Land O’Lakes Businesses and as head of Land O’Lakes’ Dairy Foods and Purina Animal Nutrition businesses, where she led record performance and growth. She also was instrumental in the acquisition of Vermont Creamery in early 2017.
In a statement to AGDAILY.com, the company said, “Land O’Lakes is extremely proud of Beth, and of her inclusion in the 2020 Fortune’s Most Powerful Women list. To be among the ranks of other powerful women working tirelessly for change in their industries and in their communities is an honor. It is also an acknowledgment of our cooperative’s employees and members, who are also deeply committed to the work they do every day.
“For this year’s list, Fortune gave extra consideration to how businesses are responding to crisis and shaping dynamics outside their company, and we were thrilled to see they recognized our work to advocate for farmers, rural communities, and closing the digital divide–all of which are efforts that underscore Land O’Lakes’ cooperative spirit and that are of great personal importance to Beth herself.”
In the video below from the 2019 recognition, Ford explains how she became named as one of the Most Powerful Women.
Fortune highlighted Ford’s ambition and determination to help farmers. “As head of the $14 billion cooperative, Ford is sounding the alarm on the dire financial situation facing farmers. She’s pushed for legislation on rural high-speed Internet access, and her efforts to bring technology to the field include a partnership with Microsoft. That’s all while on track to sell nearly 300 million pounds of butter this year–a company record–as it satisfies Americans’ pandemic baking projects.”
Born in Sioux City, Iowa, Ford earned an MBA at Columbia University Business School and a BBA at Iowa State University. Ford’s 34-year-long career spans six industries at seven companies, including International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF), Hachette Scholastic Corporation, PepsiCo, and Perseco Mobil Oil. Ford also sits on the Board of Directors for the National Milk Producers Federation and on nonprofit boards, including Greater Twin Cities United Way in Minneapolis.