Christine Middlemiss, an experienced veterinarian, will take over from current CVO Nigel Gibbens who is stepping down at the end of February after 10 years in the post.
Middlemiss joins Defra from a high-profile position in Australia, where she has been working as the CVO in New South Wales since August 2016. During her time there she has led major improvements to biosecurity across many farming sectors.
From a farming family in the south of Scotland, with a background in beef cattle and sheep, Middlemiss previously held the role of deputy director for animal traceability and public health at Defra and before that was a divisional veterinary manager at the Animal Health Agency in Scotland.
Speaking about her appointment, she said: "I am delighted to have been appointed and it will be a privilege to lead my veterinary colleagues to support our farming and food industry in this hugely important role. I am very much looking forward to working again with the team at Defra, its agencies, the devolved administrations and all the individuals and groups which will contribute to meet future challenges across animal health and welfare."
Mr Gibbens said: "[Christine's] breadth of experience from work within government and in the private sector will enable her to provide excellent veterinary leadership to the Defra group to deliver government’s ongoing commitment to maintaining our high animal health and welfare standards and to represent the interests of the whole of the UK internationally."