By Debbie James

Nearly half the land Brian Bown farms on Anglesey is rented which means that he must produce livestock and crops on those acres without the financial cushion of the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).

Although this absence of subsidy is not an obvious advantage, it has incentivised Brian to make the best possible use of his land. As such he doesn’t fear Brexit and the changes it will bring to agricultural support in Wales.

Brian’s “glass half full’’ outlook extends to the Welsh farming industry post-Brexit, he says.

“As an industry we will have to adjust and learn to manage without the basic payment.

“There is so much farmers can do to improve their businesses without relying on subsidies, we will all have to utilise our land better.’’

But Brian’s positive attitude does however depend on the UK securing a trade agreement that will allow Welsh farmers to continue trading freely in the European Union.

“I am very dependent on lambs selling well, if we don’t get a trade agreement with Europe that could have a major impact on my business,’’ he predicts.

Brian is NFU Cymru county chairman for Anglesey, a region where he and his family now produce lamb, beef and crops at Trewyn, an 85-hectare holding at Llanerchymedd.

His maternal grandfather bought the farm in the 1960s and Brian moved there when he married his wife, Nia, in 1994.

They now have five daughters and three of them work in the agriculture sector, including 22-year-old Cari who, after graduating from Aberystwyth University with a diploma in agriculture and working in New Zealand for six months, now farms with her parents.

In addition to Trewyn they rent 69 hectares on an 11-month grazing agreement.

Across both holdings they grow 40 hectares of spring barley, spring oats and winter wheat and use 90 per cent of these crops in their livestock business – they fatten around 170 beef cattle a year and run a flock of 800 ewes.

Heifers and steers are sourced at strong stores from Bryncir, Dolgellau and Gaerwen markets between August and December.

These are finished at between 380-430kg deadweight, with most achieving U3L or U4L grades. Cattle are sold to Woodheads.

The sheep flock includes 170-200 ewe lambs bought as replacements in September from sales in Scotland.

The flock is mostly Suffolk-cross ewes out of a mule, a breed that is a good fit with an early lambing systems.

Everything lambs indoors and remains housed for two days, although last year the early lambers were in for 10 days because of poor weather conditions.

The first lambs are sold to catch the early market and the higher prices – last year the best early lambs sold for £140, averaging £120.

The deadweight target is 21kg, with lambs sold to Woodhead to supply Morrisons. Some lambs are also sold to a wholesaler in Oldham, and to the local markets.

Electricity for the business is generated by a 15kW wind turbine erected three years ago.

Farming is very much a family affair for the Bowns.

Brian has two brothers – Emlyn, who he farms with, and William, who works with him in his contract crop spraying business. Their parents, Tom and Jane, still take a keen interest in the business.

The next generation is following in their footsteps. Cari is at home with her parents, 20-year-old Mair works in a farm supplies store on Anglesey and as a relief milker and Brian and Nia’s youngest daughter, 17-year-old Sian is studying agriculture at Glynllifon College.

Their eldest daughter, Elen, 23, is a nurse and 18-year-old Megan is studying for an outdoor activities qualification.

Nia is an important part of the team at lambing time and she also works in a farm supplies store and at the leisure centre in Amlwch.

Brian is delighted that his family is part of a growing trend of more women getting involved in agriculture.

“There is a great future in farming, for both men and women,’’ he insists.