Fonterra announced Peter McBride as the company's new chairman-elect on Friday.
McBride will replace current chairman John Monaghan when he retires in November.
Monaghan said the early announcement around the position came as part of the co-op's commitment to planned governance succession.
McBride was elected by his fellow directors at the co-op.
"Making this decision now also gives our farmer-owners transparency of leadership prior to this years' director elections and allows Peter and I a period of handover before I retire from the Board in November," Monaghan said.
McBride said he was humbled to be selected.
"I grew up on a dairy farm near Te Aroha and today my wife Linda and I run the family farm milking 950 cows in the South Waikato, so dairy has always been part of my life.
"I’m looking forward to working alongside John for the next few months before leading our co-op into its next phase and creating value for the benefit of our farmer owners and unit holders."
Before moving to Fonterra in 2018, McBride was a chairman of Zespri.