Colorado Hemp Works - Matt Birkholz

Dan Humiston: [00:00:00] Hello everyone. Thanks for joining us for another episode of Hemp Barons. I'm Dan Humiston in today. Joy's guest is a first mover and really at the forefront of hemp seed. hemp oil and hemp flower. which is I didn't realize is completely different than hemp flower and hemp extract oil. Before I make this any more confusing let's join Joy's conversation with Matt Burkholder from Colorado hemp works.

 

Joy Beckerman: [00:00:34] Well Matt thank you so much for being with us on Hemp Barons today.

 

Matt Birkholz: [00:00:40] Of course. Thank you Joyce. Thanks for having me.

 

Joy Beckerman: [00:00:42] And I want the listeners to know that unlike most of the interviews we do here I actually have a stake in Colorado hemp works then and there is a reason for that I thought opportunities all over after being in hemp for 30 years. It has sort of spaced in various emerging and promising companies that I choose very wisely and I I certainly chose Colorado hemp for a great reason Martha is such a pleasure to be interviewing you today. Colorado hemp is the first post Prohibition HEMP grain processing facility in the United States based in Longmont Colorado. What made you decide to get into hemp grain or the oilseed as we like to say. Aspects of this versatile and valuable plants as opposed to extract or fiber.

 

Matt Birkholz: [00:01:26] Well I've been a huge fan of cannabis and hemp and I think you know I had a small advantage just understanding you know early on I mean late 90s when I was in school writing papers about sustainability and touching on Hemp Barons and understanding that it's something different than marijuana and that it has its own potential and future. And then living in Colorado which was the first state to allow production of hemp and beyond that living in Boulder Colorado which is a mecca for natural food and unhealthy lifestyle. It just seemed like a natural fit when I wanted to find some opportunity in hemp when it became legal here and I had this advantage of just being in the right place at the right time and being in Colorado allowing the production but also being in an area that is very focused on diet and specific diets and people that are very aware of what they're putting into their body and understanding that hemp brain is incredibly nutritious and it has no known allergens so it can fit in to literally anybody's diet and provide a really clean source of plant based protein as well as Omegas and fiber and others.

 

Matt Birkholz: [00:02:43] So that kind of intersection is what I saw and I didn't see anybody else doing it. I'm definitely a fan of CBd and all of the benefits but especially in 2014 when I was doing this research and looking for my opportunity I personally didn't want to get involved in CBd just because of the risk and I know the landscape has changed significantly since 2014 but when I was assessing different opportunities or different directions to go I was scared off by the regulation and the fact that a lot of the risk around CBT was out of my hands and it was up to the regulations and government it's turned out to be a great thing for people that have gotten into CBT and I'm very happy for all of those folks. But for me at that point it's that current landscape the food seemed less risky and less saturated I guess that's why I chose to get involved and shoot so even though I appreciate the whole plant.

 

Joy Beckerman: [00:03:44] No of course of course. And also it's such a different regulatory landscape and such a tremendous contribution to human and animal health. And we'll talk about you know ASCO and the FDA not having approved hep C yet for any animal species but in such a contribution really to the planet when we look at of course the environmental cost of the meat industry and reps for a second is such a great foundation to work with. You touched upon the nutritional the unique dense nutritional value of the hemp feed I often describe it and I know you've heard me say this before Matt as these super food that needs an actual Super case a hemp case we're talking about the most diehard most digestible form of protein the highest digestible form of protein in the entire planet Animal Kingdom so more digestible protein than beef chicken whey soy. And this is of course because there aren't any tricks and inhibitors in hemp chips the inhibitors are properties that prevent our bodies from absorbing protein and they're just not present in hemp as well as of course a full amino acid profile maybe just a little less than we need for lysine but we can get that easily in other plants and then as you touched upon meal makers it's the perfect ratio of course of the polyunsaturated essential fatty acids the word is sensual is there in EFA is essential fatty acids because our bodies don't produce these Omega these essays we have to get them from our food supply and there's the perfect ratio of omega 3s and sixes in hemp including of course those which are these long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids JLA which is gamble in a way like acid an FDA Baradine Dena.

 

Joy Beckerman: [00:05:33] acid. Finally and we could go on and on. You and I could do a show on just the nutritional value of the hemp feed between minerals and folic acid and all of that and the soluble dietary fiber but it also I recently discovered along with only one other seed or nut on the planet. And that's the raw pumpkin seed. So the seed and the raw pumpkin seed are the only two seeds and nuts on the planet that actually leave an alkaline ash in the bloodstream promoting a h balance in the body which is just absolutely phenomenal to me and. And when we talk about those regulatory barriers up until the last in the last five years I've been teaching credit bearing continuing legal education seminars across the country on various law and policy of hemp. One of those has been called the curious legal status of CBD and hemp derived cannabinoids and that's why of course it's been very curious it's not so curious anymore I've had to retitle those seminars. But we're in a different area now and that brings me to before we talk about the many offerings of what Colorado hemp does and who our customers are there of course has been yet another huge seismic shift in cannabis policy with the passage of the 2010 18 farm bill. And could you talk to the listeners a little bit about how that has transformed the hemp grain industry. This bill that was enacted on January 1st of this year federally Absolutely.

 

Matt Birkholz: [00:07:06] So a lot of positive things came out of the farm bill. But I think the biggest advantage for the hemp grain and hemp food the US based hemp food industry is allowing different states to work with each other. If you know me being in Colorado and you know before that farm bill there was no legal way to transport grain from other states into our state and in Colorado specifically there was a huge surge in recreational and medical marijuana grows as well as CBD grows so there has been this goldrush and in a state that at one point was the only state and then you know one of just a handful of states that could produce CBD which really drove a. The price of land and the price of farming. The prices. Warehouse space. So we were sitting here with a fully functioning food manufacturing plant and there was a very scarce supply of grain. And now that we can transport you know we can suddenly legal to interstate commerce for us to transport grain from other states where it makes more sense to produce hemp bringing in a large scale such as Montana or Minnesota North Dakota Iowa Kansas where you know they're are coming online. That farm bill opens the door for us to connect with these farmers who think grain farmers in other states and at the same time that we were sitting here with a functional processing facility and limited supply of grain there were farmers and these other grain states under their own pilot programs who had produced large amounts of grain and had no buyers and they were in a similar situation. They weren't able to export it to other states. So that farm bill allowed us to connect and you know like puzzle pieces. So you know the interstate commerce and the allowing for cooperation between states is really the biggest benefit that we've seen so far from that farm bill.

 

Joy Beckerman: [00:09:11] It's just fantastic and as you may know on May 28 the office of the general counsel of the USDA fourth had extensive legal opinions from the USD perspective as to the impact of the farm bill it was fascinating it was all in our favor and not only said that under the 2018 farm bill faith and tribes may not prohibit the interstate transport of hemp. He actually also analyzed this ability in this prohibition under the 2014 farm bill and declared in that legal opinion that it is also underneath the 2014 farm bill that neither states nor tribes may prohibit the interstate transport of hemp and as you know during this growing season and in fact until the USDA files its cultivation regulations with the Federal Register which we don't expect the final version of that to happen until the end of this year after the public comment period begins in April everything is still running under the 2014 farm bill. And the basis for the general counsel's legal opinion there is the language that exists in the 2018 farm bill in a certain section that says as long as the hemp is grown in accordance with a certain section of the Agricultural Marketing Act and other federal laws and so the USDA says right there explains it very clearly we are interpreting other federal laws to be the 2014 farm bill and we therefore state that that neither tribes nor states may prohibit the interstate transport of hemp even under the 2014 farm bill which I do just find fascinating.

 

Joy Beckerman: [00:10:49] And let's talk for a second some basic education you know after you've been in hemp for so many years and of course most of us got into hemp for oil food and fibre all those years ago and this idea of hemp extract for CBD extracted from hemp sort of came at us like a five blinding ton of bricks about five years ago. So I want folks to understand that even though folks may use the term CBD oil or hemp oil when they're talking about CBD extracts the reality is that we trying to educate and to share responsibility all of us here that we call hemp an oil seed and fibre crop meaning we press oil from the seed of the plant which we also refer to as brain right. So it can get confusing for folks. We're calling it an oilseed crop we're calling it a green crop that's different than CBD oil which is extracted from the flowering tops and the leaves of the plant. So extracts come from the flowering tops and the leaves and CBD is an extract and that's what hemp extract comes from versus hemp oil or hemp seed oil. But we've created the term Hemp Oil decades ago and that is oil press from the seed very not a source of cannabinoids at all and very rich of course in omegas threes and sixes. We'll tell us what products Colorado hemp works processes and distribute.

 

Matt Birkholz: [00:12:18] Sure of course. No I think that's a good point. There is a lot of natural confusion around two areas and you just very eloquently pointed out the two different oils to extract oil from the flower and green material and then the expelled or cold pressed oil coming strictly from a seed. So that is one of our products seed oil is the product that we produce and we sell that to some different natural food companies but I'll use that as an ingredient in a product that they make. But the biggest segment of our oil goes to CPG companies to make it even a little more confusing. But companies use. Seed oil is a carrier fat for CBD and a lot of their products especially tinctures. But some of the edible products as well. So hemp seed oil is one of our products and parts. Is another one of our products and that's the hemp nut or a D shells hemp. So we're removing the shell and then isolating the nut packaging that wholesale supplying different natural food companies that again use that in their food products. And those hemp parts have the oil. That's where the oil is contained. And also that's where the protein has. So it's a high protein high omega really really clean healthy fat and really clean healthy protein in the hemp parts. And then the third product that we sell we create some protein powders a CO product that comes out of the oil crust. And once we expel the oil everything else that's left is referred to as the secret seed meal.

 

Matt Birkholz: [00:13:45] And that's not unique to hemp. That's similar to soy meal or canola meal or any other seed that's pressed for oil. And it's a dry dry product and it's very high in protein because you've taken a C that's about 30 percent or more protein and 30 percent oil and then you remove the oil and you further distill that protein down and the result. So that's naturally around 40 percent protein and we mill that seed cake down into frying powders and felt that as a protein powder that again natural food companies purchase and work into as an ingredient into their products. So you've touched on kind of the confusion around and seed oil and then hemp extract oil or sometimes just called Hemp Oil which is the cannabinoid extract. Another area of confusion I think we need to work out and is the word flower a lot of the powders that are produced from the feature have been referred to for decades now as hemp flower and F L O U R and I think that's confusing number one because it doesn't make for a good thinking substitute it doesn't rise like a traditional flower you know you can't substitute wheat flour or rice flour or some other flour that specifically used for cooking but it's also confusing with hemp flour as O wp wp. What's being used for plant extra so you've got two flowers and you've got two oils coming in from hemp right now and that is a little bit a little confusing.

 

Matt Birkholz: [00:15:17] The only thing is to do a little bit the work to help clear that up.

 

Dan Humiston: [00:15:21] I wanna take a minute to think of our Hemp Barons listeners and to let you know that you can support the show by subscribing to MJbulls's premium. It's only four dollars and ninety nine cents a month and you gain access to all previous episodes of Hemp Barons as well as all MJbullsls other podcasts and exclusive content.Go to MJBulls com and enter promo code Barons to get your first month free.

 

Joy Beckerman: [00:15:48] And every challenge being an opportunity and cannabis and all of its funding in all of its forms being here to teach us things how to work with each other how to synthesize with each other how to be good farmers that'd be good neighbors how to get along how to treat our bodies better how to treat our animals better and I think this very confusion is known and pleasure. Another great benefit an opportunity that is presented to us is we're going to have to learn about agriculture. We're going to have to get back to our roots and that is just another huge revolutionary ethic critical lesson that humanity particularly Americans in this western civilization need to be rethought is we do not get our food from a boxed oil package in the freezer section of the grocery store we get it from farmers and we need to figure out flour a fellow you are versus flour. F L O W E R and we need to figure out what an extract oil verse is versus an oil pass from the seed and hemp is here to teach all of that to us and it's just so fascinating and really fantastic. Now who are our customers. I know. And by the way also just thank you for explaining that the protein powder is in fact the CO products from the hemp seed oil industry in fact I used to think that about 20 years ago that to get a hemp protein you take that seed and you would grind it up and then you'd get your protein powder. But in fact you'd get a nut butter if you did that protein powder as a whole product from the seed take right it is milled after the oil is pressed out of it the seed cake is what's leftover and that is milled into the protein powders which I just think is so great. So our customers who are our customers for the whole seeds and the protein powders generally speaking.

 

Matt Birkholz: [00:17:45] Those are almost exclusively all national food companies that produce some type of product and then use hemp as one of the ingredients. I think one of the most visible customers that we have are two of them. Really I was just going to mention a few of us but also ego hemp who's here in Colorado. The TV sells the hemp hearts by the bag. Not necessarily used as an ingredient to produce a different product that they actually sell raw hemp parts in a bag for consumers to take and put into smoothies or put on the salad oatmeal added into their own shoes on their own. But Bebo hemp I think is really interesting company that's been around for a while. They've been at it for quite awhile relative to the laws and legality and public acceptance and those types of things but they make different bars that are high in protein and they use Dena. hemp and a lot of those they also use powder and a lot of those and the powder is usually a really efficient way for a company to increase the protein content in any product. So I know that they're using the powder to really achieve higher protein levels in another company.

 

Matt Birkholz: [00:18:59] Another example good see Burger out of Austin Texas. They have products that go to a burger patty that they've started making with a food truck and really gain popularity and grew and now they have frozen houses that are available at Whole Foods and Safeway. So a pretty wide range of different products that are made from it but usually what they have in common is they're interested in high protein a vegan or plant based ingredients. And you know especially bringing up good food good seed is an excellent example of a product that is hypoallergenic. So they really cater to all kinds of special diets and whether it's screen free gluten free. You know obviously meat free vegan products. So you know usually vegetarian vegans are not exclusively and we really cater to different natural food companies that are looking to produce hypoallergenic foods for the hemp seed oil. Our biggest customers are CBD companies and then they are really putting the hemp seed oil market on on its head right now because of the demand is unprecedented and they're really for high volumes.

 

Joy Beckerman: [00:20:09] Wow that is just so that is so great to hear. And some march for a healthier vegetarian and in this case vegan source of protein that is gluten free that is fast growing. That is easier on the soil that will in fact help rebuild the soil. The March really is on. And Canada has of course made itself currently the number one world leader in hemp both food ingredients and also the process. And I hope that we're catching up now. I know that you have some wonderful relationships. Colorado hemp works and and myself even some really great relationships with our neighbors to the north so we have a wonderful symbiotic and cooperative relationship with. Can you talk to us a little bit about how we work with Canada and maybe even how this shift is happening from Canadian sources as saying to America as these legal barriers in the United States for cultivation are being removed.

 

Matt Birkholz: [00:21:09] Certainly you know that's a great question. And we have in 2017 we imported about 140 million dollars worth of food products from Canada and it's been kind of ridiculous. We have a growing market here for hemp food products but we haven't been able to produce it. So all of that has been brought in from Canada but now the struggling U.S. grain farmer is able to produce hemp. So we'll see how that takes effect. But as far as how we work with Canadian counterparts it has been co-operative to this point and I think that's due to the fact that the hemp grain market is so small the US household penetration for hemp foods is lower than 1 percent. So there's so much room for growth. And you know I think that it's an issue of where the rising tide lifts all boats. And so it's not about us processors and producers against Canadian processing producers and there's this finite pie that we all are just fighting over our little sliver. It's about growing the pie. It's about making the market bigger and we can do that together by cooperating with genetics by cooperating with information and techniques but also committing to each other that we're only going to put out high quality products because as the other 99 percent of US households begin to try and foods we want them to have a good experience. So whether it has our label on it whether it has Manitoba harvest label or a few the label or some other label on it. It matter. The important thing is that people start to have positive experiences. They have high quality food. They walk away wanting more. They have conversations with their friends and neighbors and they're positive results. So it's really about growing that market as opposed to fighting over the market that exists today.

 

Matt Birkholz: [00:23:03] So fantastic. And in fact that's a that's a great segway to to the fact that little less than I wanted to make sure folks know as we call that shell around the hemp parts or the hemp not as it's sometimes called that creamy white looking nutty flavored hemp heart we call that Shell the hole and we use the term home whether we mean it has a if the holes have been removed we call them home seeds or sometimes people call them Dena. hold seeds. But I just wanted folks to know of course that the word hole actually means the shell of the hen seed and those 10 parts that are sold don't have those holes on them. And also that folks understand that generally speaking and everything is sort of general because it depends on the variety of the size of the seed and all of that. Generally speaking three tablespoons of Hoban law. hemp seeds meaning the shells are taken off. We'll give you around 10 grams of digestible protein right there in those three tablespoons which can so easily be added to yogurt salad stir fry french toast pasta ice cream. So within your smoothies we try not to of course hit it with that beautiful nutritional profile once we start to get over 124 degrees Fahrenheit or so we we do start to damage that intestinal profile. But man if you want to add 10 grams of protein to everything grow three tablespoons of hold hemp seeds on there. Now let me ask you this what kind of a farmer with obviously the difference in per acre revenue generation and there's different risk selling growing and cultivating hemp for extract versus growing and cultivating hemp for grain and nutrition. But what kind of a farmer are you seeing in the United States choosing to grow from grain as opposed to fiber or hemp extract.

 

Matt Birkholz: [00:24:54] That's a great question . Right now there's no doubt. And it's no secret that there's more money to be made producing CbD and it is a bit of a gold rush but it's also very new and the reason that the CbD farmer is making so much right now ecstatic for them is because there's been a spike in demand and a limited amount of states that have been able to produce. And beyond that it's been difficult to produce. There isn't equipment off the shelf that's going to work with you know CVD hemp. So a lot of guys have been out there manually planting manually planting clones. I mean you know teams are 50 going up fields and harvesting by hand and you know handling at all is very high touch. And also that's changing for sure additional states are allowing the production you know current producers are getting bigger and all of them are getting better and there's more automation. So I think that that market is going to start to level out a little bit and people ask often if you know we're competing with these same farmers then why would a farmer want to produce grain when they can produce TBD.

 

Matt Birkholz: [00:26:10] And it's a good question but really you know they're very different crops and they don't use the same equipment. They don't use the same genetics. They don't use the same planting techniques. So when you think about who is going to grow hemp for grain you know it's not the CVD farmer it's corn farmer it's a wheat farmer it's somebody that's already producing big grain they've got big acreage they've got big green beans and harvesters and all of the equipment that they've had and built up for generations and it's geared toward big grain production hemp is an excellent rotational crop. So if we're working with some giant wheat farmers in Montana then they're going to rotate hemp through their plots year over year and give that soil a little bit of relief and even a little bit a little bit of rejuvenation. Same thing with corn farmers even potato farmers. So in soy farm. So I mean we're really kind of more aligned with grain farming than we are with CBD production.

 

Joy Beckerman: [00:27:09] Makes perfect sense are looking to add hemp grain into their grain rotation of their existing farm operations so fantastic and I know that Colorado hemp is bursting at the seams with the growth. I know that those oil seed presses are running at my right when I say 24 hours a day seven days a week essentially those oil presses at Colorado hemp for right now and seed oil.

 

Matt Birkholz: [00:27:35] That's true. You know they basically get up to temperature and start operating that they're of more efficiency and they don't want to be turned off. On cooled down. They don't want to start back up but they wanted to. And so we oblige. Then we keep them running 24/7.

 

Joy Beckerman: [00:27:49] It is the most exciting thing to see and to witness and to smell that beautiful natty smell of hemp seed oil. There are no doubt some investment opportunities with all of this exponential growth. If folks were interested in some of these investment opportunities how might they get in touch with you Matt.

 

Matt Birkholz: [00:28:07] Well they could always get a hold of me directly. Matt Colorado hemp works dot com but we have a financial officer that I would most likely hand them off to. He is best suited to scramble in our current round of funding.

 

Joy Beckerman: [00:28:22] I think a great deal to notify them and then pass them over to Ken who excellent to Ken me Oh she's fantastic and well just thank you for doing this. They're really talking about reenergizing the family farm and we're talking about a transformation in human diet and animal diet and a transformation and again the environmental impact of our protein sources. So you're just doing such incredibly important work. It's such an honor to know you to be involved with what you're doing that.

 

Joy Beckerman: [00:28:55] And thank you so much for being on with us at Hemp Barons today. I can't wait to have you on a farm of course. Thank you I really appreciate it. Up to that sure about what we're doing.

 

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Dan Humiston