Stuart Roberts is replacing Robert Forster as the chief executive at the National Beef Association.
A senior Defra livestock specialist for many years, Roberts is known for his work setting up the BSE testing regime that led to the restart of beef exports and the return of Over Thirty Month cattle to the food chain last year.
He will join the NBA in July, after he's taken Defra's work on the disease cost-sharing initiative to the end of the consultation phase.
NBA chairman Duff Burrell said: "This confirms the status of the NBA and will help it to continue developing its already good reputation."
Forster described the appointment as something of a coup for the NBA. He is retiring after nearly 10 years at the helm of an organisation that he helped to found in 1998.
Forster has become known for his forthright views on beef issues, and he has been a vociferous critic of the mainstream multiples for paying below the cost of production for beef.