High school and college students in agriculture understand this, he says, noting the high school in his home, St. James. He asked students there where beef comes from. "You can look out from the school and see cattle," he says. "Country Mart is the first thing they think of, because they think like consumers." This is where youth have leadership potential, he says. "They're not just our future farmers, they're our current ambassadors."
It's important for everyone to step up, Hagler says. "To take time to go and represent your state and represent your industry, that's important." He recalls Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver's speech at the Governor's Conference in Kansas City, addressing his own background in agriculture. "That meant something to the people that showed up that Congressman Cleaver understands agriculture."
In one of his staple jokes, Hagler notes a farmer in 1952 who took his children and neighbors' children, 16 total, to the state fair. "Finally he sees a tent. It says there inside is a 3,000 pound bull," Hagler says. "He says, 'I've been farming my whole life I've never seen a 3,000 pound bull.'" At 25 cents apiece, the farmer couldn't afford the fee. But the bull's owner overheard, and decided to let them in. "He said, 'Son let them right in,'" Hagler says. "He said, 'I don't want him to see the bull, I want the bull to see him.'"
Hagler says farmers need to show the bull. "I want you to be agriculture evangelists," he says. "When people talk about agriculture, stand up for agriculture." He notes agriculture's role in supporting Missouri and the U.S. "When an American farmer does well, America does well," he says. "There's more money in the church plate on Sunday, local schools do better, local businesses do better." He notes the recent rough patch agriculture went through. "I know it's been a rough couple of years, but I believe the future of agriculture has never been brighter."