Mr Odgers has stepped down from many of his industry leadership roles since the tragic death of his son, Johno, on the family farm in March last year.
In 2001 the Odgers family moved from north-west Tasmania to Ardmona in northern Victoria.
Murray Dairy chair Andrew Tyler remarked on Mr Odgers’ achievements at dinner during the organisation’s annual conference.
“In the early days of farming in the Goulburn Valley, whilst busy developing your dairy property and juggling the demands of a young family amid a personal health scare, you were still able to make time to take the opportunity to immerse yourself in the issues of the region,” Mr Tyler said.
Mr Odgers was appointed chair of Murray Dairy in 2008 and finished two, three-year terms with the regional development body in 2012.
The challenges during his time in the governance role included uncertainty around water reforms, low rainfall and below average water allocations, the implementation of the Foodbowl Modernisation Project, the 2011 floods, and the closure of the Kyabram Dairy Centre and focusing on how research and development would be addressed.
Mr Odgers’ strong interest in water has involved him serving on a Goulburn-Murray Water water services committee and also on the ADIC water taskforce.
In 2009, Mr Odgers joined the Tatura Milk Industries board and continued as a director of Bega from 2011 until June 2020.
He was elected to the Dairy Australia board in 2013 and served as chair from 2017 until 2020, and retired as a director only recently.
Mr Tyler recalled a seminal moment in leadership for Mr Odgers when he gave a passionate and honest speech in October 2018, in his role as chair of Dairy Australia.
“I recall it started with ‘we are in a spot of trouble’,” Mr Tyler said.
“Strong leadership and courage were certainly on display, Jeff, as you encouraged the industry to take a good hard look at where it was at and to develop a path forward.
“Progress since then may not have been as fast or to the extent that some may have wished but importantly discussions have started.”
Mr Tyler noted the hallmarks of Mr Odgers’ engagement with Dairy Australia included his passion for encouraging adaption of technology, and being a strong advocate of providing tools for farmers to strengthen their businesses.