Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Mike Allen speaking with former U.S. Trade Rep. Ron Kirk. Photo: Lawrence Jackson for Axios

On Monday, Axios' Mike Allen talked heartland issues with those who see, live, and try to fix them every day.

Why it mattered: We heard how trade and economic policies are effecting America's hometowns from:

  • U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue
  • House Agriculture Chair Mike Conaway
  • Former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk
  • Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke

Their conversations laid the groundwork for the rest of our tour, with stops in Savannah, Ga., Denver, Co., and Los Angeles, Calif.

Mike kicks off the kickoff. Photo: Lawrence Jackson for Axios
If you think of all the mistakes that the press made in 2016. The biggest mistake we made is that we didn’t listen. We overlooked important forces in America because we didn’t listen. That's why I’m very excited about this hometown tour. 
— Axios Executive Editor Mike Allen
Mike Allen and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Photo: Lawrence Jackson for Axios
Sec. Perdue

On tax reform

  • “The best sustainability program is profitability,” Perdue says, explaining that tax reform has benefitted both small farms and mega-farms, from a business perspective. 

On U.S. trade disputes

  • "When you have a trade dispute, agriculture is what's tariffed and what will be retaliated against. Foresters, farmers and ranchers are bearing the brunt of this."

What Trump tells him: "The president told me he didn't expect farmers to bear the brunt of the trade war."

What he tells Trump: "I tell the president that [farmers] are some of the best patriots — I believe — in America, but they can't pay the bills with patriotism."

Mike Allen and Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke. Photo: Lawrence Jackson for Axios
Mayor Berke

On trade: Volxwagen's only American assembly opened in Chattanooga in 2011. Mayor Berke says this taught Chattanooga "the importance of trade" because "when [Volkswagen] sells more Atlases and more Passats, Chattanoogans have more jobs."

On how to be a great hometown: "Take advantage of your assets. […] When you focus on your assets and the things you do better, you can really grow your community."

One surprising thing: Chattanooga has "the fastest, cheapest, most pervasive internet in the world. [...] It skips no one, no neighborhood, no matter what you do or what you look like."

180+ DCers kicking off The Hometown Tour. Photo: Lawrence Jackson for Axios
Mike Allen and Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX). Photo: Lawrence Jackson for Axios
Chairman Conaway

From Axios' Zachary Basu:

Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) dismissed the pushback he's been getting on the farm bill [...] asserting that there's "no reason" Congress shouldn't get the bill done by the Sept. 30 expiration date and that it's "too important not to."

Why it matters: Last month, the House approved an $867 billion farm bill in a narrow 213-211 vote that included new work requirements for Americans on food stamps. With a 50% drop in farmers' net income, high commodity prices and an increase in bankruptcies, Conaway said that there is "no question we need this safety net to keep our producers in business."

Mike Allen and Ambassador Ron Kirk. Photo: Lawrence Jackson for Axios
Ambassador Kirk

Ambassador Kirk explained that the U.S. is "ridiculously the most proficient agriculture economy in the world," making it extremely dependent on other markets.

Why it matters: This is why U.S. agriculture is consistently the target of foreign trade disputes and why farmers get hit the hardest by them.

The power of American agriculture: "The words made in America are the greatest brand in the world. No mother or father ever worries about putting food on their table if it's been raised by our standards."

Photo: Lawrence Jackson for Axios

Thank you to everyone who joined us, and thank you Wells Fargo for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Health

Fauci: COVID vaccine rollout needs to prioritize people of color

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci highlighted the need to address racial disparities in the COVID-19 vaccination process, per an interview with The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

What he’s saying: "I think that's the one thing we really got to be careful of. We don't want in the beginning ... most of the people who are getting it are otherwise, well, middle-class white people."

The Mischief Makers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Several Republican and Democratic lawmakers are emerging as troublemakers within their parties and political thorns for their leadership.

Why it matters: We're calling this group "The Mischief Makers" — members who threaten to upend party unity — the theme eclipsing Washington at the moment — and potentially jeopardize the Democrats' or Republicans' position heading into the 2022 midterms.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Obama speechwriter fears Biden unity drive is one-sided

Cody Keenan (right) is shown heading to Marine One in December 2009. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Obama's former speechwriter says he's "preemptively frustrated" with President Biden's effort to find unity with Republicans.

What they're saying: Cody Keenan told Axios that Biden's messaging team has "struck all the right chords," but at some point "they're gonna have to answer questions like, 'Why didn't you achieve unity?' when there's an entire political party that's already acting to stop it."

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!