Missouri Department of Ag director speaks to Sikeston chamber

Sunday, September 30, 2012

SIKESTON, Mo. -- Since being appointed as the Missouri Department of Agriculture director in 2009, Dr. Jon Hagler has spent a lot of time in Southeast Missouri.

The spring 2011 flooding which led to the Birds Point levee breach and this year's drought have brought him to the area several times. "I kind of feel like we are next of kin right now," he said.

Hagler was the featured speaker at Thursday's monthly luncheon of the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce. He spoke of challenges and opportunities of agriculture, in addition to the impact of agriculture in the state.

"No part of our economy is stronger right now than agriculture," Hagler said. "And when farmers have money, they spend it locally."

Hagler highlighted three points.

"First, you have to continue to embrace change," he said. "The agriculture of today is certainly not the agriculture of tomorrow."

Hagler noted how past generations farmed is vastly different than today, and it will continue to change with technology.

"Right now, there are more than 300 apps for farming, and they can do all kinds of fascinating things," he said.

Secondly, it's important for those involved in agriculture to "understand that you have to connect to the broader audience," Hagler said.

With only about 1.5 percent of Americans now living on a farm or ranch, the number of people involved in agriculture is getting smaller and smaller, he said. But everyone eats, so everyone has a connection to agriculture, he said.

"So you have to make sure to communicate to the other 98 percent," Hagler said. "You have to sell not only the steak, but the sizzle."

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