FURNER stud breeder Tom Baker received a tremendous surprise at the Simmental breed's 50-year celebrations at the Sydney Royal Easter Show when he was honoured with life membership of Simmental Australia.
"It is a real honour, it is not something that I ever expected but it is a nice accolade to have," he said.
Mr Baker's father Dale and his uncle Dean had the first Simmental calf born in Australia while Mr Baker and his wife Lizzy have grown their Woonallee stud into one of the most respected studs in Australia.
The stud holds the $160,000 national breed record for a Simmental bull sold at auction.
Breeding Simmentals may be a family tradition for the Baker family but Mr Baker says it is far more than that with the breed having so much to offer the beef industry with its market versatility.
"Their maternal and terminal traits are pretty unique in a European animal and chasing that straight coat colour has really added to our arsenal and broadened our market base even further," he said.
"It has given us some great friendships and has given us a fantastic business model to operate and prosper from but at the end of the day we enjoy the Simmental breed and what we do."
Former Simmental Australia chief executive officer Peter Speers -who presented the award on the night with current federal president Stuart Moeck- said Mr Baker had guided the breed forward in his two terms as federal president contributing to its current level of popularity.
He has also served with high distinction for 20 years on the federal council and 15 years on the SA branch committee.
Mr Speers said during his 20 years managing the society from 1987-2007 Mr Baker was a big help "always willing to offer wise counsel and advice".
"He has done the same for many others, including assisting and mentoring many young aspiring cattle enthusiasts and steering them into careers in the cattle industry," he said.
But arguably Mr Baker's biggest contribution to the breed according to Mr Speers has been in the Woonallee stud's genetics.
"When you look across our breed today, there wouldn't be many herds that haven't got some Woonallee influence in their genetic make up - to their benefit," Mr Speers said.
"The annual Woonallee sale in February is a highlight event for the breed."
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