How ‘cattle charlatan’ Allan Savory hijacked the ‘regenerative ranching’ movement

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Allan Savory. Credit: James Duncan Davidson
Allan Savory. Credit: James Duncan Davidson

Given the billions of humans on the planet and the futility of feeding them all on hunting and gathering from native ecosystems, regenerative farming is an important step toward sustainability.

However, regenerative ranching is a far more suspect proposition. In ranching, the conversation got hijacked decades ago by a charlatan named Allan Savory, peddling a just-so story that high-intensity, short duration grazing by cattle and other livestock was an improvement over traditional passive methods of livestock management. He claimed that you could triple livestock numbers while increasing grass production, a claim that was debunked scientifically by credible range scientists. 

For decades scientific studies have evaluated various methods of rotational grazing (which always involve some level of increased fencing) with unmanaged, dispersed grazing under comparable stocking rates. The findings strongly suggest that both rotational and dispersed grazing get pretty much the same results.

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Ironically, the livestock lobby groups promoting the wonders of regenerative ranching the loudest are typically those representing the ranchers who are the least regenerative, the least sustainable, and the most destructive. 

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