Bega Cheese executive chair Barry Irvin was awarded the University of Sydney's Dairy Research Foundation 2019 Dairy Science Award on Wednesday night.
Dairy Connect chair George Davey in presenting the award said it saluted Mr Irvin's vision and tremendous drive in creating a billion-dollar industry from humble beginnings in regional NSW.
The award, which is sponsored by Dairy Connect, was presented at the NSW Dairy Symposium to Bega Cheese senior executive Roger Went, who was standing in for Mr Irvin.
Mr Davey told the gathering Mr Irvin had enjoyed a long and distinguished career in the Australian dairy industry, most particularly during his 20 years as executive chair of Bega Cheese.
He led the company through the tumultuous and challenging post dairy deregulation period in Australia after 1999.
Under his leadership, Bega had been transformed from a company on a single manufacturing site, producing 3500 tonnes of cheddar for sale on the domestic market annually and employing about 80 people to one producing 230,000 tonnes of cheese, milk powders, infant formula and nutritional products, exporting to more than 40 countries and employing about 2000 people.
Bega has domestic and international sales of more than AU$1.2 billion.
Mr Irvin's leadership was a case study in successful regional development and enhancement of community wealth and pride, Mr Davey said.
His contributions and performance have been recognised in other sectors, in particular, being made a member of the Order of Australia for his services to the dairy industry and to children with disabilities.
He has also been named NAB Monash University Agribusiness Leader of the Year and Rabobank Agribusiness Leader of the Year.
Earlier in the week, Bega Cheese announced Mr Irvin had extended the period of leave he had taken to recover from bowel cancer surgery.
On May 24, the company announced Mr Irvin was taking a period of leave to recover from surgery.
This leave would be extended for about six months as Mr Irvin undergoes chemotherapy to address the cancer.
Mr Irvin has appointed long-time director Max Roberts as his alternate director for the duration of his leave.
Mr Roberts will also act as chairman of the board of directors during this period.
This story first appeared on Australian Dairyfarmer