The award, announced in Sydney last night, recognises an outstanding contribution to the food and agricultural industries.
Dr Peacock headed CSIRO's Plant Industry division for 26 years, pioneering research which led to numerous advances benefiting global agriculture including facilitating the first commercial introduction of a transgenic crop - insect-resistant cotton - in Australia.
At the forefront of modern biotechnology research and fostering its application to agribusiness industries, his achievements also included gene technology research to benefit pasture species and championing new approaches to wheat, barley and cotton breeding.
He initiated development of a low glycemic index (GI) and high-fibre CSIRO barley variety, Barleymax, now available on supermarket shelves.
Announcing the 2012 award winner, Rabobank's Australia and New Zealand group chief executive Thos Gieskes said Dr Peacock's work over more than 40 years "resulted in a broad and deep impact on agribusiness in Australia and well beyond".
"Jim Peacock's career is exemplary of a successful marriage of science and industry," he said.
"He is a visionary leader who has made not an outstanding contribution to science in Australia and internationally, but to industry-partnered science which has been of enormous benefit to agriculture and agribusiness around the globe.
"Jim has long been acknowledged as a global leader in plant science."
The Rabobank leadership dinner, held at the Art Gallery of NSW, included a keynote address by Coca-Cola Amatil's group managing director, Terry Davis, talking about the company's development into the Indonesian market.
The Rabobank Leadership Award recognises achievement in, and contribution to, Australia and NZ food, beverage and agribusiness industries.
Dr Peacock, who was chief scientist to Australia from 2006 to 2008, is currently fellow and chairman of CSIRO's office of the chief executive science team.
He is also a "distinguished professor" at the University of Technology Sydney
Mr Gieskes said in addition to Dr Peacock's invaluable contribution to innovation in agribusiness, he had been "an outstanding champion and passionate advocate" for science in the community, particularly with younger generations.
"Jim is a committed, energetic and inspirational leader in the science world.
"His personal commitment to science, his belief in science and its benefits for industry and society - along with his ability to bring the excitement of modern science to the public, and in particular promote science education in the school system - has been of enormous benefit to this country."
The award's judging panel comprises of industry peers including recipients of previous Rabobank agribusiness leadership awards Doug Rathbone, Donald McGauchie, Allan McCallum, John McLean, Max Ould, John Watson, Nick Burton Taylor, Robert Hill Smith, Dr Bruce Lee and last year's winner Bega Cheese executive chairman Barry Irvin.