Not one to mince words…..Ian Mitchell-Innes has just finished teaching one of the Paicines Ranch spring classes on ranch management. If the students, many of whom are land managers expected a mealy-mouthed, politically correct approach they were in for a surprise. It was instead an opportunity to hear from a man who has spent his life on the land and analyzed grazing philosophies from all over the world. As a specialist in Holistic Resource Management, he is highly qualified to explain the concept of "Mob Grazing". His talk on Drought Management caught the attention of both ranchers and public land managers. The South African is a well-known specialist in innovative approaches to livestock grazing and ranch management. Mitchell-Innes was trained in Holistic Resource Management (HRM) but has been experimenting on his own ranch for over 15 years. According to the HRM website, "Holistic Management is based on four key principles that highlight the symbiotic relationship between large herds of grazing animals, their predators and the grasslands that support them." His teaching complements the popular HRM training but Mitchell-Innes says he prefers a more flexible approach. In his Drought Management Workshop, Mitchell-Innes stressed trying new ideas gradually, taking into account multiple aspects of the ranching business and keeping a critical eye on the bottom-line. "You can't save the world until you can save yourself", he told the group. Earlier sessions focused on specific instruction in forage management. Mitchell-Innes advised against monitoring for philosophy and instead encouraged monitoring for the survival of your business. He expressed concern that governments in many countries are getting too involved in people's lives. With his head-on approach, he explained to the gathering of land managers, "Our problem is the relationship with government. People who have nothing to do with the land are dictating what we should do with it."
Leslie David is a Bay Area independent reporter/producer and is a BenitoLink founding board member. She has produced for radio, television, newspaper and magazines in both California and Wyoming. She was with KRON-TV News in San Francisco as camera-woman, editor and field producer, where she won the Commonwealth Club's Thomas Storke Award with Linda Yee for their series on the Aids Epidemic. She started as a small market news reporter shooting her own 16mm film at KEYT-TV Santa Barbara. Leslie lives on a ranch with her family in San Benito County.
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