By Scott A.
Louisiana will officially have a DSA member on the statewide ballot on Oct. 12.
Marguerite “Margee” Green has qualified for the race for Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry. She aims to unseat incumbent Mike Strain on a platform that will elevate all Louisianans, and she’ll need volunteers to do it.
Green, the executive director of local nonprofit SPROUT NOLA, said a win would mean a complete shift in how the Department of Agriculture and Forestry operates.
“It would be a worker-first mentality in a state-level position,” she said. “We see industry-first leaders in these roles. We see people prioritizing financial gain of corporations.” Green’s policies would aid every worker in the value chain of agriculture: from the small farmers to the pickers to the sorters.
What would be on Green’s to-do list in her first 100 days? Working on legalizing adult access to recreational marijuana and limiting pollution from farming runoff.
An Ambitious Agenda
As Ag Commissioner, Green would have a hand in regulating and promoting new crops, and she would advocate strongly for one of those crops to be cannabis.
“We’re missing out on a new crop that could expand our tax base and keep Louisiana competitive,” Green said.
Legalizing marijuana should also include expungement of criminal convictions for cannabis, Green said, ending an injustice that has derailed the lives of many Louisianans.
Green would also target runoff from farms that threatens Louisiana’s waterways. Fertilizer runoff from farms can contaminate drinking water, foul rivers and create algal blooms.
Louisiana is already at the forefront of the climate crisis as rising temperatures are ruining the predictable patterns of rainfall and replacing them with cycles of disastrous droughts and floods. Green wants the state to play a large role in combating the effects of global warming.
“Trees are very effective at capturing carbon,” Green said. But in 2015, her opponent ended a tree nursery program that provided low-cost tree saplings and promoted sustainable growth. Green said she would work to restore that program as well as appoint a task force to ensure sustainable agricultural practices.
Green also wants to make farming a viable career path for young Louisianans.
“Farmers 35 and under are outnumbered by farmers 65 and older by 6 to 1,” Green said. “The majority of Louisiana farmland is going to change hands soon, and young people need to be comfortable and secure in starting new farms.”
A Welcome Endorsement
At the June convention, New Orleans DSA gave its first-ever electoral endorsement to Green.
Green said it might have seemed strange a few years ago that a democratic socialist group would make its first endorsement one for Ag and Forestry Commissioner. But the endorsement shows that democratic socialists are building a movement that encompasses all aspects of creating a more just society.
However, Green needs more than just endorsements. She’s facing an entrenched incumbent with a lot of moneyed interests on his side. Her plan to win is a people-powered campaign that spreads her message through one-on-one interactions.
“We need to outwork him,” Green said.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Join #green4agriculture in the Slack