This will be more important in years to come. "By 2050, we're going to have to feed a population of 9 billion people," Hagler notes. "If we didn't lose one single square inch of farm ground, we'd have to double our production. That's a heck of a challenge." Over time, agriculture has embraced change. "We went from a mule and a plow to satellite-guided precision farming," he says. "Precision in machinery is getting faster and faster. It's getting more precise." To feed the world, farmers need to continue this, he says. "If you don't ride the wave of change, you'll soon find yourself underneath it."
Look to agriculture's youth
Young leaders are aware of this. "In 2009, I got invited to speak at the state FFA convention. That thing is cool. It's like a rock concert." Here, Hagler noticed technology's importance in FFA. "I forgot my speech. So I said, I think I'll talk about technology," he says. He knew after listening to speeches all day, FFA members wouldn't be able to pay attention. "I said, 'Since you're not going to listen, pull out your phones.' They pulled them out, and it just lit up."
Phones are one way technology can benefit agriculture. "Young people going to be able to do things with their phone we never thought about doing," Hagler says. "They're going to be able to check the moisture content of their soil. They're going to be able to check if their cows are out."
This is important with a rising urban population, and fewer people in agriculture. "We are 1.5% of the nation. That means the other 98.5% are making policy decisions for you," Hagler says. "Those are your consumers. You've got to connect to that broader audience."
Making the connection can be as simple as addressing hunger. Hagler recalls a discussion with the head of the Missouri Department of Conservation. "He said, 'Did you know one out of every four Missourians hunts or fishes? I said, 'Did you know four out of four eat?'" Hagler says. "Are you hungry? Then we've got something in common."