The challenges that they're facing in his home state and opportunities that he sees around the world (9/19)
Dan Humiston: [00:00:07] Hello, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Hemp Barons. I'm Dan Humiston and today's guest is from a multigenerational Nebraska farming family. Their company is now applying their over 40 years of agricultural equipment experience to creating equipment for Hemp farming. On today's show, he talks about the challenges that they're facing in his home state and opportunities that he sees around the world. Let's join Joy's conversation with Andy Bish from Bish Enterprise.
Joy Beckerman: [00:00:46] Andy, thank you so much for being with us on Hemp Barons today.
Andy Bish: [00:00:50] Yeah, well, thanks for having me, Joy.
Joy Beckerman: [00:00:52] Such an honor and such a pleasure. And I know you're in a foreign country as you explore the plant and all of its opportunities and how you can contribute to these emerging industries globally. So we've got a little bit of a delay here today as we speak. So we're thinking the listeners in advance for minor pauses that they may hear between question and answer. So, Andy, you've come from a long line of an agricultural family, Bish Enterprises. You're Andrew Bish of the Bish family of Nebraska. And I think, correct me if I'm wrong, the third generation in farming equipment. Is that correct?
Andy Bish: [00:01:30] Yeah, that'll be correct. The company was founded in 1976 by my grandfather, Harve. My mother and father, Brad and Christy Bish owned the company today and I operate the day to day operations.
Joy Beckerman: [00:01:42] It's so still amazing to get to meet your entire family, as I do your mother, your father, your brothers, your wife, your daughter, all involved in this promising, versatile crop. What was the deciding factor? What was the inspiration? Renditions reprises prizes, decided they were going to get into Hemp farming equipment. Please tell us about how that how that began.
Andy Bish: [00:02:10] Yeah, it was. It was purely by accident. We'd been working on a new technology for the sorghum and sunflower industry and a customer of ours from the custom harvesting side of, well, agriculture reached out to us and said, hey, we think this product would work great to harvest some grain Hemp that we have out in Colorado. We'd never done anything like that. I've never heard of anybody doing anything like that. This was in 2016 and so we took the opportunity to go out there with a piece of equipment. And our first year we ended up harvesting 180 acres of Hemp. And technically we destroyed 180 acres of Hemp because it did test hot. It was the infamous Colorado gold. And after that point, we just got more and more involved in the industry as we saw that there was a sincere need and a lack of people going into that area to find solutions for our growers and harvesters.
Joy Beckerman: [00:03:15] And so what is it, did you start out by modifying existing equipment? And I think probably that is what you still do as it as a service is to modify existing equipment and then start to build new equipment. Could you tell us a little bit about those options and services and products that Bish that Bish Enterprises takes care of for us?
Andy Bish: [00:03:35] Yeah. So the original product that we developed, we actually developed from the ground up and so that was something that we engineered in-house. It was a all new type of header. We just hadn't specifically designed it for sorghum. Ah, sorry, we designed it for sorghum. So there was just minor modifications that we needed to do for Hemp because we we've been working in millet and millet is a very fibrous crop that has a lot of problems with wrapping similar to Hemp. And so we learned a lot of our lessons early on with millet. And so it was really an easy transition over to Hemp with that particular product. Now some of the other products we work with, like the single roll harvester, those were originally invented for the tobacco market and we've helped reengineer that so that it works for Hemp because there is some machinery out there that can easily be modified to work in different aspects of the cultivation process of Hemp. And then on the harvesting standpoint, the same way, we're still working on modifying equipment, but also developing brand new equipment to bring into the marketplace.
Joy Beckerman: [00:04:42] And just so that we can educate the listeners just on some basics about farm equipment. Could you explain to the listeners what is, for example, a header is.
Andy Bish: [00:04:52] Yeah. So headers go on the front of either combines or swaths hours or forage harvesters. And basically it's just a harvesting device that feeds a larger machine that does some sort of processing and combine. They're going to separate out the grain from the chaff in a forage harvester. You're going to chop up all the material and then in a swath or set up, you're actually just gonna cut the material with the header and lay it on the ground.
Andy Bish: [00:05:18] So a header is basically just an accessory for one of those items that basically does the cutting part of the harvesting.
Joy Beckerman: [00:05:30] And are you thinking, is this thinking about getting into what we've seen of what you have probably also seen in Europe and in other countries, we're seeing them pop up in China now. Also a double header, so making two cuts, one about eight inches above the ground or so for that valuable stick long, strong stock where again, we've got some wrapping it hits and then another cutter for the top sort of the flower head thinking about getting into that as well. Yes.
Andy Bish: [00:05:57] So we actually already have developed a kit to put a header into the air, nine feet. And then we're currently working on building the bottom side of that.
Andy Bish: [00:06:08] One of the challenges we came into when we started building that piece of equipment, though, was actually the genetic issues that we're having in the United States. And what we're seeing is while in the first couple years of Hemp growth in the United States, there were some people that grew some of the large crops that they have over there in Europe, really, really tall, fibrous crops with seed on top because there wasn't that equipment early on. People quickly moved away from those genetics and moved into shorter genetics. So I personally don't think that there's a lot of opportunity with the current genetics that we have to use, the equipment that I've got sitting in storage. And so it's just been sitting there as we've been looking for people that are going to go into a growing long line fibre. And the last person I talked to that did that was actually in Washington state last year where they grew some 14 foot tall Hemp. And that's that's the last I've heard of it. So we're at work. We feel that we're already in a position to be able to offer a solution to the current marketplace. Isn't asking for that solution.
Joy Beckerman: [00:07:16] In our nation, I wonder if you were talking about the Pew Allah. I think they're the only ones who actually grew legal Hemp last year in Washington state. The. It's true. Yes, indeed. The two allies, just amazing advocates and really doing some great things for the crop in Washington state. I love that you're connected with them. Indeed. You know, we are growing our poor, growing our Hemp extract, which is different than an oil seed crop versus a fiber crop versus a Hemp extract or Hemp CBD crop Hemp sown for cannabinoids. They can look very different. Fiber crops generally grown so close together, right? Sometimes up to four hundred seeds per square metre or one to three hundred seeds per square metre or more, and then less densely planted, but still quite densely planted for a grain crop. And then when we get into our cannabinoid heads extract crop or Hemp CBD crop, we start to see that the plants are more individually cared for, like one plant for every one and a half metres. And they have such a more developed industry obviously in and Europe for fibre in particular. Certainly the grain Hemp grain industry is quite developed in Canada, but not fibre for that stock, whereas they do have that luxury in China and in Holland.
Joy Beckerman: [00:08:38] So even if their fibre Hemp is only producing 3 to 4 percent CBD, that's fine for them. They're there double heading it. They're cutting off the fibre, they're using that.
Joy Beckerman: [00:08:48] They're using the co product of the flower to make their CBD and it works for them and we're just not there yet in terms of infrastructure, farming and infrastructure processing. But I'm so not surprised and so grateful to know you're ready for us. Bish Enterprises has our backs as as the industry here emerges and it's happening one foot in front of the other.
Joy Beckerman: [00:09:09] Particularly thanks for your family.
Andy Bish: [00:09:11] I really feel like one of the predicaments that we're seeing as a result of the 2014 farm bill and the restriction of being able to move genetics across state lines. This is the first year that there's actually fruit and genetics can be moved. And so we're going to start seeing as we go into future years, especially the next coming year, we'll probably see a higher adoption rate of the more appropriate genetics for different regions as the choice and selection actually becomes much more available to people.
Joy Beckerman: [00:09:43] And as those genetics become more stabilized, you know, again, in oil, seed and fiber industries, very well established industries with certified pedigree seeds and, you know, with global seed certifying agencies, having acknowledged now for several years, five to seven years, I think a AOSKA, the Association of Official Seed certifying agencies has recognized and had a certification system for Hemp varieties.
Joy Beckerman: [00:10:09] And so we've got these unique, distinct and stable genetics for oil, seed and fiber, just not yet for Hemp extraction. And we'll get there because, of course, we've spent so much time and thousands of years potentially as a human race, sort of breeding down the resin for oil seed and fiber. And now we want Hemp extract because we want the cannabinoids CBD. Cannabis all. And now we're having to breed the resin backed up. So it's that constant taming. So I know that some of our most brilliant breeders and geneticists all over the world and certainly in North America are working on that.
Andy Bish: [00:10:46] If I may, I'd like to disagree with you about the stabilized genetics on the grain and fibre standpoint. And what I mean by that is all of these certified variety. I don't I don't get excited when people tell me it's certified seed. I get very, very concerned when people tell me if certified seed, because what the problem is, certified seed is today that it's not reasonably certified. And what's stable in Holland is far from stable here in the United States. And we've seen people that have bought seeds that have been stable in Canada for 25, 30 years, bring them into locations. And then we see some very, very interesting behavior happening with these plants. So while there definitely is a lot more certified varieties out there for grain and fiber, and until we get them regionally certified, we still have a major problem in the United States, even from the grain and fiber standpoint.
Joy Beckerman: [00:11:38] Oh, it's incredible the variation between photo period, climate soil, all of that from what we've got in North America and I guess I'm speaking more globally and not nationally, that that those certified varieties do exist. And I think it's important for us to educate the listeners that unlike our cousin, medical and adult use and sacramental Cannabis commonly known as pot or marijuana, those schemes do not yet exist anywhere on the planet for a certified pedigreed seed, whereas they do exist for Hemp due to the fact that many developing countries have been regulating Hemp as an agricultural commodity for a number of decades now. The United States is just coming on board for that. So but absolutely what might grow in Canada will not necessarily has frankly proven won't grow that well in Kentucky. However, in upstate New York, where we're close to Canada, those genetics worked fairly well for us here. Cornell University in SUNY State University of New York, of course, are doing variety trials and have now for a number of years and work with some of those breeders up in Canada. So absolutely, that can be that can have a great variation. But in general, Hemp extract all over the world, we're not finding so much unique, distinct and stable varieties, whereas we do with the other.
Dan Humiston: [00:13:06] I want to take a minute to think Oliver Hemp Barons listeners and to let you know you can support the show by subscribing to MJBULLS 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 MJ MJBulls, other podcasts and exclusive content. Go to MJBulls.com and enter promo code BARONS to your first month free.
Joy Beckerman: [00:13:32] So let me ask you, did you have a whole other company here? Hemp Harvest Works and one that you co-founded. Can you tell us about the products and services of Hemp Harvest Works?
[00:13:44] Dsl There actually is no co-founder there. That's just that. That was just me. And what I did was I came to the decision that we needed to look at putting another business in place mainly, mainly because the regulations in the marketplace at the time relative to banking weren't safe. To me, it didn't make us feel safe to go into business in the Hemp industry and knowing that our operating line could be shut off at any point. And then I had to send 20 people home. We're not a large business. We've got 20 people that work for us, but they're 20 people that have families. And I wanted to make sure that we were able to continue to feed them. So I launched Hemp Harvest Works as a separate company based mainly because of the banking industry. But I also wanted to give growers a specific destination for Hemp equipment. And so that company takes advantage of the services and the products that we offer at Bish Enterprises. But I've also gone out and made some great deals with a lot of other providers of other equipment that help solve the rest of the supply chain needs where we originally started out designing and fabricating products for harvesting. We don't do that on the front side of the cultivation. So we went out and found providers that can bribe cultivation solutions.
Andy Bish: [00:15:16] We went out and found providers to provide drying solutions, storing solutions. And we've even got a new solution with drone usage so that you can actually do spot treatments on your field with organic chemicals or even introducing beneficial insects to the field. So what we're trying to do with Hemp Harvest Works is really to provide a complete solution from the time that you want to go put the seed into the ground so you want to go and extract. And I'm working on deals with extractors right now to be able to offer some services from some of those people. And we've got some deals in the works to be able to offer genetics for this coming year. So really complete seed to sale opportunity for growers to be able to come in and identify all the equipment, not just our equipment. Of course, I'm partial to the stuff that we make, but maybe the stuff that we make doesn't fit the needs of that particular grower. And I want to look beyond just what we make to the needs of people that just need other things that aren't doing the type of equipment that we're doing. And there's companies out there that are providing some of those solutions and helping to fill the gaps.
Joy Beckerman: [00:16:32] And Andy, you really just articulated one of the most, I just think, commendable aspects of you, of your entire family. You're talking about cooperation and Cannabis and all of its forms, and particularly Hemp is teaching us how to cooperate, how to how to make systems easy or how to work with each other for the benefit of everybody. And you walk that walk. You talk that talk with Hemp Harvest Works. I think it's a beautiful manifestation of exactly your dedication to solving the problem, although you don't look at it that way. None of us do. Commercialism says, oh, if I can solve your problem, I can sell my stuff. You do this. Your whole family comes at this from such an authentic cause of really understanding on a deep level the prominence of this versatile, valuable crop. And it is amazing to watch you work and unfold. And I had no idea that you were getting into dryers and all that equipment from seed to extraction. I didn't realize you were involving yourself. Hemp Harvest Works has an integrated pest management drones. Just thank you and thank you for wanting to bring in everybody so that we can deliver the best solutions for everybody.
Andy Bish: [00:17:56] Yeah, well, again, I come from a family of growers, so while of all this business has been in the business since 1976, when you look at how we got into business, my grandfather was a farmer. My other grandfather is a farmer. My uncles are farmers. I've got aunts that farm. I've got cousins that farm. And so farming to me is the key to life in America. It's how we eat. It's how we feed ourselves and how we feed the world, the things that we're doing here. And now we've got an opportunity to provide not only food, but we can provide medicinal solutions, therapeutic solutions, housing solutions. And so to me, the plant itself motivates me to do what we're doing because of the benefits that it's providing to the community around us, not only to the farmers and growers that are producing it, because some of these people just aren't going to get the yields that they need to be able to survive on the corn, soybean, wheat, commodities that are out there. And so it gives them another solution, but also to the people on the backside that benefit from the crops that they're growing. So to me, this this plant touches my family and myself and a lot of different aspects.
Joy Beckerman: [00:19:09] As you know, and there are lots of farmers out there, but not all farmers are converted into advocates, and indeed it's true that without the top six inches of soil and rainfall, we would all be dead. Agriculture is how we live, how we stay alive. And indeed, when we're talking about a plant that is really here to serve all of humanity's needs from human and animal nutrition, body care, pharmaceuticals, new pursuit, Eccles building materials, plastics, paper, textiles, nanotechnology, industrial fields and coatings. I mean, oh, my God. So you respond to me talking about what an advocate you are and what an inspiration you are to the whole community, North America and globally. You respond by saying, Hey, I come from farmers, but I know a lot of farmers and they're all wonderful. You are an advocate, brother. If you where if there is something happening in Hemp, you are there. You are weighing in your every event, educating you're on. So you serve so many different nonprofit organizations. As a member or a leadership. And it is just so we're just so grateful to have you, Andy. And we can tell you are just a lightning rod for what is happening here, your whole family. But such an important role. And that brings me to the fact that you applied for a license to cultivate Hemp and maybe even process Hemp. You'll correct me there in Nebraska and as such, a leader, not only in America and North America and beyond. There was a randomized process for folks who were getting the license. So despite the obvious asset that you are to advancing this crop in your state and in our country, you didn't get a license. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Andy Bish: [00:20:59] Yeah. I definitely am a frustrated individual. I can admit to that. You know, we, my brother and I introduced the language to LB 657, the bill that ultimately passed in Nebraska and created a law that allowed for farmers to grow Hemp. And throughout that process, we worked tirelessly to make sure that the right things in the industry were getting put into that bill. I happen to live in a state where the administration still is confident that our goals are nefarious and that we're trying to grow marijuana inside of a farm fields. And so it's really hard to work with the administration with that vantage point. So they actually took the good bill that we wrote and then put in some additional regulations so that they could have this random process. Ultimately, I think to discourage, what we're trying to do and the people that put a lot of energy into the process, because everybody that put energy into this process is in the group of people that was not selected. But also when they selected this, Rand did this random process. It's obvious that it's not random. Based on some of the individuals that were selected, there were some random selections, but there were also a lot of selections that were obviously not random.
Andy Bish: [00:22:29] So there's a lot of politics going on in Nebraska which make it very frustrating. And I have definitely voiced my opinion to the state. And I can tell you, like I said, I'm a very frustrated individual because we are making machines that we need to test. We need to test now. And the only way that I can test these machines today is I can either drive out of state and take the money that we would spend in-state and go and spend that on hotels and meals in Colorado and Kentucky and Tennessee. Or I can bring that material into the state and I can process the Hemp illegally. And that puts me in a very difficult situation. As the whole purpose of passing this bill was to keep me from being the criminal that the state thought, well, not the state thought that I was. But ultimately, the way that the law was written, my activities were criminal activities for the last four and a half years.
Joy Beckerman: [00:23:31] And you know, most departments of AG and State in general, generally speaking, legislators are generally excited by the time they get it. They've been educated by activists for a number of years. And by the time we hit a stride with the state legislature, they're usually pretty excited about it. And generally speaking, Hemp bills are passing now almost unanimously, if not unanimously in both chambers. And so but in Nebraska. And then those states as departments of AG are usually pretty excited about reintroducing this very unique and versatile crop of which the United States has such a rich and jaw dropping history to state departments of, as, of course, are reviewing and analyzing applications based on the highest chance of success that the farmer nobody's getting into to the farmer have access to equipment. Does this farmer have a market to sell into all of those things in that respect? Hemp Harvest Works End or Bish Enterprises and or Andy Bish himself is literally the ideal candidate. The ideal applicant to help help this promising crop emerge in a state.
Joy Beckerman: [00:24:43] And here it is. Your own state has denied your application when in fact you are the ideal applicant in any of the 50 states.
Andy Bish: [00:24:52] Yeah, it's actually very interesting to me. Specially since the University of Nebraska, one of the leading agricultural universities in the United States, actually is working directly with me and I'm helping the extension department develop their curriculum that they're gonna put forward to growers. So, yeah, I don't understand. There's you know, I'm not the type of person that believes people are out to get me. You know that I'm not that important that people are gonna be coming after Andrew Bish. That's not how I look at the world. But the department, this administration, through our our language, which we only speak back and forth in the press because the governor refuses to talk to me in person. It's obvious that there is an agenda against what we're trying to do. And there they are trying to punish us for the efforts that we've made in this bill, because without people like myself and a few other people on the ground here in Nebraska, Hemp wouldn't be legal this year. Absolutely wouldn't be legal. And if it were legal, it would be one of the worst bills that has come across the nation in many, many years. So there's no doubt about that, indeed.
Joy Beckerman: [00:26:09] But, you know, there's another thing that there's no doubt about, and that is that time is coming and your time is coming. And just like we saw, I generally like in the Cannabis revolution, the Hemp revolution or any aspect of it to the civil rights movement. And I say, you know, this is like when we watch the shameful, embarrassing. I mean, I'm embarrassed and ashamed for these southern governors who sat there in the middle of an obvious revolution and shifting in our own society and civilization with regard to human rights and civil rights and sat there on television proud a day, you know, to say, well, it's never gonna happen in our state or we're always going to have segregation here. We're not going to be shipping people in the same buses in my state. And we look at them today and they're like dinosaurs, you know, just crying into the wind, a dying wind.
Joy Beckerman: [00:27:08] And that is exactly what's happening in various administrations in the United States with regard to Hemp and all forms of Cannabis. And I promise you, brother, that's what's going to be happening in Nebraska and your time is coming. And there there's no way that it's not. And. And so many people over these last years, I've been in Hemp, the Hemp movement for just around 30 years, the spring of 1990. And this is it's typical. We don't see it quite as often these days. And I'm sorry that we're seeing it in Nebraska. I'm certainly sorry for the Bish family that we're seeing this family involved in that kind of political victimization. But it isn't entirely unusual in the movements going back historically. And I can tell you, it's all going to come around. Right. And we just cannot thank you enough for your dedication and your commitment.
Joy Beckerman: [00:27:55] And I know that I know you well enough to know, Andy, when these types of things occur. That's just going to make you persevere more. You are the opposite effect. You are not going to team. Andy Bish. Andy, this is coming for you. If he is seeking justice and to advance this plant that you believe in and without.
Joy Beckerman: [00:28:13] Andy, tell us, what are sort of your larger goals or dreams? What do you see in the next five years for Bish Enterprises and Hemp Harvest Works?
Andy Bish: [00:28:24] Well, at the rate that it's moving, that's really hard to tell because it's really kicked into lightspeed right now. So just being able to gauge where this marketplace is going, it's hard, it's hard to pin that down. But, you know, ultimately where I'd like to see ourselves is we want to continue to innovate and develop solutions for growers. We know that some of the innovations that we're putting out there right now, they're not they're not going to work. They're not going to last forever because the type of crops that we're going to grow, we're going to change. And so we're going to invent products. We're going to obsolete ourselves. And that's what we're going to continue to do. We're going to continue to go out there and we're going to try things. We're going to make mistakes. We're going to find the things that work. And we're going to continue to work anywhere we can to help support this plan, because as we move forward, we're going to start to see more competition in the marketplace. And I think that that's going to be necessary. But for Bish, our intentions are always gonna be focused on providing the solution to the grower. And so we're going to continue to go out there and do the research that's necessary. Find the items that the customers truly need and come back and help to develop those. We're not profiteers. We're not looking to make a billion dollars in this industry. And as long as I can continue to support my family and support the families of the people that I employ, I'll be very, very satisfied with that. But that's what we're gonna continue to do. We're gonna go out. We're gonna continue to do research. We're going to continue to develop. And we're gonna continue to provide solutions that other people are not providing to this marketplace.
Joy Beckerman: [00:30:05] So innovation, adaptation, collaboration, I mean, that's what you guys are about. And Andy, we just can't thank you enough. Whether you keep on going, we'll support you every step of the way. And thank you. You and your whole family for everything you do, brother for Hemp.
Andy Bish: [00:30:23] Well, you give me too much credit because whenever I think of the hard work that we're putting in, we couldn't have done that without pioneers like yourself and so many the other people that have went on. How early put seeds in the ground risked lots of money to try to help this plant get where it is. And so, you know, I'm definitely a part of a part of this. But but I'm not alone. And I really appreciate everything that everyone before me has done to give me the opportunity to help provide some of these solutions for these people.
Joy Beckerman: [00:30:56] We are definitely all here on the shoulders of giants, Andy. But believe me, brother, you are a giant. And again, until next time, brother, I hope we get to have you back again soon. Thank you so much for being with us today. Well, thank you, Joy.
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