Fonterra chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden handed the baton to his successor on Monday, after a decade at the helm of New Zealand's biggest company.
Sir Henry stood down as chairman at the annual meeting at Msyery Creek, but will stay on the board for up to six months.
Sir Henry's handover to Waikato dairy farmer John Wilson featured a totara fence batten which came from his farm.
''It's about 20 years since I left the farm, but the batten is still here,'' he said.
Mr Wilson paid tribute to Sir Henry for his leadership during the past decade and said he had always led from the front.
Mr Wilson told the meeting that having a united co-operative lies at the heart of what he wants to achieve.
He lives on his family dairy farm near Te Awamutu and also manages a dairy farming business in South Canterbury.