Western Victorian dairy farmer John Harlock was recognised posthumously for his contributions to the Australian dairy industry at an industry breakfast.
Mr Harlock, who died in July, was awarded the Pat Rowley Award for Outstanding Service, which is presented annually by the Australian Dairy Industry Council (ADIC) to recognise those who have significantly shaped the industry.
ADIC director Simone Jolliffe, in announcing the award, said Mr Harlock had a strong passion and commitment for the herd improvement industry and had been a respected advocate for Australian genetics for more than 30 years.
Mr Harlock held numerous positions within the dairy industry, including on the Australian Dairy Improvement Scheme, Datagene, Genetics Australia, Warrnambool Cheese and Butter, the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria, Western Herd Improvement, and Herd Improvement Victoria.
"Many of you know John lived by the motto if you are not involved, you are part of the problem," Ms Jolliffe said.
"He held a deep love for the Australian dairy industry and for its people.
"He was a mentor to many including myself and was always available on the end of the phone and willing to provide assistance where he could."
Mr Harlock's wife, Shirley, who herself received the Outstanding Service Award in 2015, accepted the award.
"I could not be more proud to accept this distinguished award on John's behalf," she said.
"He lived to farm and loved every minute of it."
Mrs Harlock said he would have been embarrassed to receive the award being a humble person who never saw himself as special or better than others.
"John was always very proud to say he was a dairy farmer," she said.
"He believed dairy had been good to him and his family, which it has, and the trials and tribulations along the way was the rent that you paid to stay in the game was his view."
Mrs Harlock said the couple started dairying from a modest base.
"But John was always a visionary, he certainly was a supreme optimist, a glass half full person,” she said.
"John loved people and took everyone at face value.
"Whilst seen by many as a mentor, he never saw himself in that role and always felt he benefitted far more from others than he ever gave.
"He gained enormous satisfaction from encouraging young farmers progressing through, be it from herd purchase, sharefarming, leasing to full out farm ownership."
Mrs Harlock said her husband's off-farm involvement emerged gradually due to his strong belief that people had "an obligation in some way to contribute back to our industry, not just be takers".
He also possessed a great thirst for learning and each farm he visited was an opportunity to learn something.
"Together John and I were a formidable team, just ask our sons, both sharing a common goal and a love of agriculture but every team needs a visionary leader to succeed and John certainly led the team at Fala Park with great passion, dignity and pride," she said.
"I trust his commitment and contribution to this wonderful dairy industry of ours his fellow farmers and colleagues will leave a lasting legacy."