Jim Carmichael – 'The Voice of the Family Farmer'
Born in 1952 in Mayogall, Co Derry, Jim attended the local primary school in Lavey before moving on to St Patrick’s College, Maghera.
As a young boy, Jim was always to be found helping out on his neighbour’s farm, so a course in Loughry was the obvious choice on leaving school. He worked initially for the department and then as a poultry advisor for O’Kane’s.
Jim will be fondly remembered for the tremendous impact he had on the Northern Ireland farming industry, where he helped shape policy in conjunction with assisting thousands of farmers over his long career.
He joined the Northern Ireland Agriculture Producers’ Association in 1990 as a Field Officer and travelled the length and breadth of the country, increasing membership and gaining respect.
The farming industry was facing major change during this period, with margins getting tighter and bureaucracy increasing.
Jim created a service side to support farmers, helping initially with grant and subsidy applications but evolving to encompass all aspects required to operate a successful business.
In the mid 1990s he took on the role of Development Officer, attending meetings in Dundonald House, Westminster, Brussels and Strasbourg, where he provided input from a local level to help shape much of the legislation that is used today.
Even in his last few weeks, Jim was providing responses to upcoming policy changes to protect the farming community he dedicated his life to helping.
Jim forged alliances with like-minded organisations across Europe to advance the cause. He also worked with the UFU, Farmers for Action and local MLAs as he believed there was strength in co-operation and a joint approach on many issues. Jim was also involved with cross community farmer groups, as both a mentor and speaker at meetings.
He was also a founder member of Farm Crisis Network UK, a forerunner of DAERA Rural Support.
He gave freely of his time for this cause, recognising that farmers were often working in isolation, overburdened with bureaucracy, in debt and struggling with depression.
Jim was usually to be found in the office in Cookstown with his colleague and great friend of 32 years, Eileen.
Farmers enjoyed a visit to the office as there was always a bit of banter as they got their work done. Jim respected everybody, whether they had one acre or a thousand acres.
The tagline for NIAPA is “The Voice of the Family Farmer” and this is what Jim Carmichael was for the farming community in Northern Ireland.
Jim and his wife, Philomena, had six children and Jim was proud of every single one of them. He was a great father and family man.
Jim is survived by his loving wife Philomena, sons, daughters, grandchildren, great grandchild, sister and in-laws.
Jim’s first anniversary mass will be celebrated this Saturday (18 March) in St. Mary’s Church, Lavey, at 6pm.