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September 1997

We Reap What He Reaped

Cyrus McCormick and the Problem With Agriculture

Whatever the oldest profession may be, the oldest occupations are hunting and gathering. Indeed, for millions of years they were the only occupations, until farming began about 10,000 years ago and slowly spread around the world. Two hundred and fifty years ago, perhaps 80 percent of the population of the Western world was engaged in agriculture. But then, as the Industrial Revolution began in the cloth industry in the English Midlands, the percentage of the population that was devoted to farming began to drop.