Cargill’s beef chief takes lead on food safety work

The Canadian-born Cargill executive who oversaw construction of the company’s beef packing plant at High River, Alta., will now be responsible for the company’s global food safety efforts.

Bill Buckner, a southern Ontario native and McMaster University graduate who managed the High River plant from its opening in 1989, has been a senior vice-president at Cargill since 2000 and is responsible for the company’s global meat, animal feed and salt businesses.

Minneapolis-based Cargill on Wednesday named Buckner to lead the company’s food safety efforts in addition to his other duties.

Buckner joined Cargill in 1987 and in 1998 became CEO of Cargill Meat Solutions, the company’s global beef processing business, based in Wichita, Kan., and president of Cargill’s Excel fresh meat business.

Among his executive duties, Buckner also chairs Cargill’s brand reputation committee and pension investment committee.

Buckner’s responsibilities for food safety come as part of a shuffle of Cargill senior management, in which chief financial officer David MacLennan was named as president and chief operating officer, Sergio Rial as executive vice-president and CFO, and Emery Koenig as executive vice-president and chief risk officer. Paul Conway, a senior Cargill executive who joined the company’s board in 2008, was named the company’s vice-chairman.

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