Organic Valley’s Missy Hughes is ending a 16-year run at the $1 billion organic cooperative after being tapped by Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers to serve as CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).
Hughes, who has the dual role of general counsel and chief mission officer, has been instrumental is helping La Farge, Wis.-based Organic Valley achieve double-digit growth from $150 million in annual sales to over $1 billion, and from 500 family farm members to more than 2,000.
She oversees legal and government affairs, cooperative stewardship, and mission and messaging, as well as serving on the cooperative’s executive management team.
Hughes has served on the boards of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the Organic Trade Association (OTA), where she was a three-term board president. She was also appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to the USDA Advisory Committee on Agriculture & Biotechnology in the 21st Century.
Hughes will start her new job on Oct. 1, becoming the final member of Evers’ cabinet.
Hughes’ departure comes six months after George Siemon, an Organic Valley founding farmer and its CEO, stepped down.
“Having worked in a high growth business for many years, with the goal of helping farmers stay on their farms now and for the coming generations, I am excited to bring my experience to the Evers administration, and I look forward to helping all of Wisconsin thrive,” said Hughes.
Republicans in the state legislature had changed state law during the lame-duck session following Evers’ election to prevent him from immediately appointing the WEDC position.
In fact, Republicans in the state Senate also could reject Hughes’ appointment during the confirmation process.
“With her background helping small businesses and family farms, coupled with her experience navigating complex governmental, regulatory, trade, and business matters, Missy Hughes will be an incredible asset to our team as we work to grow an economy that works for everyone,” said Evers. “I look forward to working with Ms. Hughes as we connect the dots on economic development in a way that encourages entrepreneurship and innovation while supporting our farm economy, our manufacturers, and the Main Street businesses, start-ups, and large-scale companies that help our communities thrive.”