WHEN Andrew Weidemann was a student at Murtoa College, his English teacher would get frustrated with him because every story he wrote was about his family farm.
In fact, he was much happier wagging school altogether, to spend the day "working on the farm with dad".
The agricultural industry leader has been recognised with a Member of the Order of Australia in the 2020 Queen's Birthday Honours list for significant service to primary industry, particularly to the grain-producing sector.
And while his personal achievements are many, Mr Weidemann sees the award as recognition for his entire family who have built up Weidemann Pastoral over three generations.
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Born and bred on the Wimmera, Mr Weidemann did go on to further his education, finishing with an Advanced Diploma of Agronomy.
"One of my cousins made the comment once that Weidemanns were made to work," he said.
"That certainly came through from my parents, Noel and Gwenda. They taught us the importance not only of working hard, but of putting back into the local community."
He said he was grateful for the values instilled in him by his family.
"My grandparents on both sides were involved in agriculture, and it was an important influence to be growing up and having those kind of people around you," he said.
"This is a personal award, but I feel it's more about our whole family's contribution to agriculture.
"So while I'm happy and honoured to receive it, agriculture has been my passion and it doesn't come without hard work and commitment by everyone involved."
In his younger days, Mr Weidemann was a gun shearer, but in 1988 he and brother Rodney returned to the family farm to help their father after he had a mild stroke.
As Mr Weidemann's career progressed, his interests developed into the area of agricultural politics, the genetically-modified crops debate, agricultural research and policy, and farming practices.
He relishes his role as the chairman of Grain Producers Australia, a position he's held since 2013 - though it's just one of a long list of industry associations he's been involved in.
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"Through this role I'm helping to change the shape of the industry, trying to create a forward looking industry," he said.
He's also heavily involved with the Victorian Farmers Federation and Birchip Cropping Group, and has also held a number of other committee and advisory roles.
In his community, Mr Weidemann is a former Rupanyup Football and Netball Club president, former 1st Lieutenant for Rupanyup Country Fire Authority brigade and current volunteer firefighter, Rupanyup Community Centre Working Group chairman, Central Wimmera Community Fuel Project chair, and former Rupanyup Amateur Basketball Association president.
Mr Weidemann paid tribute to his wife Julie, who he describes as his "rock of Gibraltar" and his children Sarah, Jordan and Matthew.
So what's next?
"I've been really excited over the past five years that we've developed some new leaders in the grains industry, and government funding has helped us to nurture them and bring them through," Mr Weidemann said.
"My sons are also showing signs that they want to be involved in farming, There's a lot of pressure these days for young people going into the industry."
And whatever the future brings, it's unlikely Mr Weidemann will be taking things easy.
"I'm not happy unless I'm busy," he said.
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