In episode 15 of the Ministry of Hemp podcast, we get an update on hemp banking. Plus, this episode marks the beginning of our new Profiles of Women in Hemp series.
First, our host Matt discusses the recent passage of the SAFE Banking Act in the U.S. House of Representatives and what it means for hemp businesses. Then we begin our Profiles of Women in Hemp with a conversation with Jane Pinto, founder of First Crop.
We want to hear from you too. Send us your questions and you might hear them answered on future shows like this one! Send us your written questions to us on Twitter, Facebook, email email@example.com, or call us and leave a message at 402-819-6417. Keep in mind, this phone number is for hemp questions only and any other inquiries for the Ministry of Hemp should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t forget to subscribe to the Ministry of Hemp Podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcast app. If you really want to help us out, we’d love for you to rate or review the show.
Thanks again for listening! Contact email@example.com if you’re interested in sponsoring our podcast or other content on our website.
More about women in the hemp industry
Here are some other articles we’ve published about women in the hemp industry:
- Exploring Hemp in India with Mansi Shah of Hemp Fabric Lab
- Becoming a hemp advocate, with Cait Curley
- Women owned CBD brands we love
Women In Hemp & Hemp Banking Update: Complete episode transcript
Below you’ll find the full written transcript of this episode:
Matt Baum: 00:04 Welcome to the Ministry of Hemp Podcast. My name is Matt Baum. Today on the show, we are starting the first of what I’m calling a series focusing on women in the hemp industry. Today we’re going to listen to my conversation with Jane Pinto from First Crop. Jane is amazing. She is not unlike interviewing a unicorn. She is spiritual. She is excited. She is powerful, and she is helping hemp farmers to bring their product to the public and making sure they do it in a safe and responsible way. Jane was wonderful, and I can’t wait for you to hear this interview, but before we get into that, let’s touch on a little news first.
Hemp banking update
Matt Baum: 00:52 Just a couple episodes ago, we were talking about banking and how difficult it is for anyone in the hemp business to legitimately process electronic payments or get loans from a bank. Well, there’s actually very good news this week. The SAFE Banking Act or the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2019, which is sponsored by several different bipartisan representatives, just passed in the US House of Representatives with a bipartisan vote of 321 to 103, which is crazy because there are no more bipartisan votes in Washington, DC. The hemp industry is feeling pretty good. It looks like this could pass the Senate, and the SAFE Act is going to be introduced, and it’s going to get voted on.
Matt Baum: 01:39 What it would do, it would allow marijuana related businesses and states with some form of legalized marijuana and strict regulatory structures as well as businesses selling hemp derived products, that’s where the hemp comes in, to access the banking system. 2019 was not a great year for hemp crops. The farmers battled rain and drought and hail, mold, everything you can possibly imagine that would kill a hemp plant. This year’s harvest, which is the first since hemp was made legal throughout the US under the 2018 Farm Bill is estimated to come in at 115,000 to 138,000 acres, and that’s according to votehemp.com. That sounds like a lot, but it’s nothing when you think about the millions of acres that are devoted to major cash crops.
Matt Baum: 02:30 I know you hear me saying the word marijuana, but due to the confusion over the legality of hemp, most banks and credit card processors have been hesitant at best to provide services to what they call cannabisnesses. Some of them have even canceled banking and financial services for very legitimate hemp businesses because they were afraid they were selling marijuana. Well, the good news is if the SAFE Banking Act passes US Senate, then everyone is going to have access to legitimate banking and legitimate electronic payment processing. From there, hemp becomes a legitimate business.
Matt Baum: 03:12 What can you do? Call your senator today and make sure that they plan on voting for the SAFE Banking Act to legitimize hemp and hemp businesses in your state. Now, my conversation with Jane Pinto.
Jane Pinto, hemp entrepreneur
Jane Pinto: 03:34 I have been entrepreneurial literally it feels like from a very young person, and I think everything I’ve done along the way really has led to this place, this transformative place with hemp because all the businesses I’ve been in and started with wonderful people along the way have truly been about not just what are we doing? Who are we doing it with, and how are we doing it, and why are we doing it?
Matt Baum: 04:14 Right. There’s thoughtfulness behind it basically.
Jane Pinto: 04:16 Always been mission-based, always been impact businesses.
Matt Baum: 04:20 That’s awesome.
Jane Pinto: 04:21 Have no interest in working to just work. I call it work-work living.
Matt Baum: 04:27 Sure. You’re a bad capitalists like me then.
Jane Pinto: 04:32 Oh yeah, but I do believe in capitalism very much because I-
Matt Baum: 04:35 I do too. I’m just not very good at it. That’s the problem.
Jane Pinto: 04:40 I believe in regenerative capitalism. I believe in reciprocity. I believe that we should be really successful and we should share that success in service.
Matt Baum: 04:51 That sounds wonderful. Do you come from an agriculture background?
Jane Pinto: 04:56 I have absolutely nothing to do with agriculture, nor have I ever … Except that I love mother nature and our planet, and that is why I am involved with these great men and great women in hemp. I am.
Getting into the hemp business
Matt Baum: 05:14 How did you end up here? What brought you to hemp?
Jane Pinto: 05:17 This is how I got there. I was in the food business. I had started a company with a great group of people that was healing food allergy kids like my child had life-threatening food allergies, nothing for her to eat, nothing healthy, delicious or safe. We went into that free-from world so you get into the natural products industry and into that marketplace, and you start meeting incredible people and then all of a sudden, because you want the best ingredients and you want to know who farmed them and how they farmed them, that’s how you get into agriculture. That’s how I got in, was through Don’t Go Nuts through Pinto Barn, the the previous company that I founded. In that industry, I met so many great people.
Matt Baum: 06:09 Did you say it was called Don’t Go Nuts?
Jane Pinto: 06:12 Yeah, Don’t Go Nuts.
Matt Baum: 06:13 That’s a great name.
Jane Pinto: 06:14 It was the food line.
Matt Baum: 06:15 I like that.
Jane Pinto: 06:18 Yeah, food is great.
Matt Baum: 06:19 From there, you started-
Jane Pinto: 06:20 The families do go nuts trying to keep their kids safe with that.
Matt Baum: 06:22 Oh, absolutely. It is awful right now.
Jane Pinto: 06:28 You start working with the farmers and then the suppliers and we had to do a field to fingers process and practices so we knew where everything was coming from and it was safe. I started to meet the farmers, and that changed me. We really did.
Matt Baum: 06:45 They’re incredible. They’re incredible people to do what they do on a daily basis and work as hard as they do for as little money. It’s true passion and it’s amazing. You used the term field to fingers. What is that? Tell me about that.
Jane Pinto: 07:00 Well, field to fingers was that we knew who grew it, how they grew it. If it was gluten-free, we knew there were no fields around to crosspollinate. We knew where it was shipped from, what supplier held it. We knew cross-contamination and all the way through our manufacturing facility, all the way to the kid’s fingers. We knew what the quality and safety was with that product, so we knew they were safe and they would be well for meeting it.
Matt Baum: 07:28 I really like that, field to fingers. I’m going to steal that and use it. That’s good.
What is First Crop?
Jane Pinto: 07:32 Yeah. Well, we’re soil to soul at First Crop.
Matt Baum: 07:36 Tell me about First Crop. You are helping small hemp farmers currently, right?
Jane Pinto: 07:42 Well, First Crop came together because of all the incredible people I met in food. I met this wonderful man along the way, Michael Bowman, who is called Mr. Hemp. About four years ago, he and the other people who have founded this company with me because we all had been talking about it for quite a long time, we really started to watch policy and see what was going to happen. What I learned, because of who it sounds like you and I are, everyone else was looking at there are five lanes of hemp. This is going to be a multi trillion dollar business, 100,000 products. What I love is that it pulls carbon out of the air and puts it back into the soil, and that helps every living being on this planet. We have to take care of it.
Jane Pinto: 08:36 We’re out of time. We got to grow things and make things that save our planet, and then we need those products to also heal our bodies and our souls. That’s why I think hemp is … I approach this plant with heart and humility because I actually feel it’s a pretty sacred transformative delivery to us right now. I truly believe that, Matt.
Matt Baum: 09:01 Hearing you say that, you sound … The same words came out of some of the Native American growers in Nebraska, in Colorado that I met. They sounded exactly like what you were saying and saying that this is not a plant that we own, and we should not treat it that way. This is a plant that can help us, but we have to grow it right and we have to take care of it and it will take care of us.
Jane Pinto: 09:29 Well, that’s exactly right. I hope and pray that we have set First Crop up in a regenerative ecosystem that really honors that process all the way from the loamy soil, how we treat it, what nutrients we put in, how we can nourish it throughout the coming years, the type of seeds we use, the partnerships with our farmers that elevate them and their rural communities because we have a foundation that will give back to them. We share our profits with the farmers, and that for me really makes this a kinship instead of where the people who grow hemp and then we sell it and we buy it and we make this. We’re a regenerative system, and I don’t think our world is going to survive without regeneration and reciprocity.
Matt Baum: 10:21 Flat out it’s not going to. No question there. The science bears it out no matter what anybody tells you. It’s interesting because I talked to a couple of people recently that spoke about what they called the marijuana mavens, the people that came in and said there’s money to be made here, and we just have to grow as much as we can, as fast as we can and flood the market with it, just like in soybeans or corn or any other crop out there. It seems like you and this person realize that we have a unique chance here to grow a plant that really hasn’t been modified since we stopped growing it 75 years ago and do it the right way.
The healing power of hemp
Jane Pinto: 11:05 Oh, it’s pure. It is transformative. It is humble. It’s pure. It’s a healer.
Matt Baum: 11:14 Yeah, definitely. No question. I’m taking CBD daily, and it’s helped with pain in my hands. What does First Crop do?
Jane Pinto: 11:23 It’s a healer right from the minute we put the seed in. You know what I mean?
Matt Baum: 11:27 Sure.
Jane Pinto: 11:27 That tap root starts working on our earth and then it grows up and then it just pulls carbon out of the air and puts it back in the soil. What more could we ask?
Matt Baum: 11:37 Exactly.
Jane Pinto: 11:37 Nevermind what it does once we get it out of the earth. You can use every bit of this plant to do something that is regenerative for our planet after it’s already regenerated … done regenerative practice on our soil. It’s beyond words really.
Matt Baum: 11:59 I laugh because it’s true. You’re absolutely right. Can I ask, how does First Crop, I called it first corp, I apologize, how does First Crop help farmers?
Jane Pinto: 12:08 That’s okay. We don’t want to be corpses [crosstalk 00:12:10].
Matt Baum: 12:10 No. Exactly. Not yet. It sounds a little too big banking to me.
Jane Pinto: 12:17 I want the loamy soil but not so fast.
Matt Baum: 12:19 Right, exactly. How do you help small farmers? Where does First Crop come in?
Jane Pinto: 12:25 Well, we like to say instead of teaching and helping them, they’re actually teaching and helping us. We partner with them so that by bringing the resources and expertise that we have on the team in regenerative farming, in seed gen, in genetics, in planting soil to soul that we bring them … They’re the flowing river. We’re the banks. We’re just helping them and partnering with them to make sure that they take this risk and there is a reward that is not only in carbon currency, it’s in capital currency, it’s in full currency, all of that because it’s a big deal for a farmer to trust that they cannot do what they did the year before and do this and know they can feed their families.
Matt Baum: 13:24 It’s got to be terrifying to make that choice.
Jane Pinto: 13:27 Yeah. I think because Michael Bowman and David Hill and Dave Weir and Dave Armstrong, who are my partners, co-founders in this, and then we have incredible women helping always in product development, in relations. I just think that when we bring it all together, there’s trust and credibility to the farmer that we’re going to walk them through this process. Look, we’re learning too. This is a new thing. Anyone who says they’ve got it or they’re the ones, they miss the whole point. We’re all the ones together.
Matt Baum: 14:05 Exactly. They’re probably lying if they say they’ve nailed it and they’ve got it.
Jane Pinto: 14:10 Yeah.
Helping farmers grow hemp
Matt Baum: 14:11 Let’s say I’m a tobacco farmer, and I contact you guys, and I say, “I want to grow hemp,” what is step one? When you guys come in, what do you tell me is step one?
Jane Pinto: 14:20 Sure. Step one is I would put you immediately with David Hill, Dave Armstrong and Michael Bowman because that’s their lane. The farmer comes to us however they come, and then that that team, the First Crop Commons team talks to them about exactly what our program is. Here’s a copy of our contract. Here’s what we’re paying. Here’s what you’re going to get from us, and here’s what we need from you. We really talk this regenerative partnership.
Matt Baum: 14:53 You’re accepting some of the financial burden too to help the farmer get started.
Jane Pinto: 14:59 We accept some of the upfront cost of the seeds. This year, they paid half, we paid half, and then upon time of harvest, they would pay the other half. We’re working very hard to get our first harvest done and see where we are because our ultimate goal would be that we are seed providers to these farmers so that together we know their soil is ready and that their seeds are the best that are possible, and then we go through the growing process with them, then we go through harvest with them. They have to have their own people to do it, but we’re their partners and guides. Everybody is going to harvest and dry. Our first extraction facility, our First Crop Commons, first one is going to be up and running and doing its job in another month. The extractor arrives Friday.
Matt Baum: 15:58 Cool.
Jane Pinto: 15:59 The building is up and we’re ready to go. That’s a model we hope to replicate around the country.
Matt Baum: 16:04 Do you help with the other end as far as introducing the farmers to people that want … producers that want to make CBD or CBD products or is it just up to-
Jane Pinto: 16:15 No. We buy it.
Matt Baum: 16:16 You buy it.
Jane Pinto: 16:18 We buy everything from them, and they know when they sign the contract at the beginning of the season at planting, at getting the soil ready, we tell them we’re going to buy it from them at … Of course, there are all these conditions, and I don’t want to speak about things that aren’t my lane but-
Matt Baum: 16:41 Got you.
Jane Pinto: 16:42 … the efficacy of the product and all of that. We work together and all of that, but we buy their product, and then we have our own brands that we are bringing to market in January. Many people on our team, our brand developers and sales and marketing, talents from other industries, mostly food and skincare and all of that. I really feel like we’re in the right lane. We’re going to do pharma and skincare and topicals. In 2020, start with our food and really bring this beautiful transformative product to wellness and food too.
Matt Baum: 17:21 That is very cool. I’ve spoken to some people who weren’t happy with how the industry was working, so they went out and found farmers that were doing it right or they started their own farm. I really liked the idea that you guys are saying, look, we will come to you and help you get started and plant this, and then you sell it to us, and we’ll help you make money. That’s incredible.
Jane Pinto: 17:44 Yeah. Well, they get paid a good and fair, beautiful market price for their product that they deliver, that they harvest, and then they get 5% profit sharing. Everything we do with that product in the branding world-
Matt Baum: 17:59 That’s amazing.
Jane Pinto: 18:00 If we can grow this to where we believe we will, and we will grow it there, these farmers will have profit sharing with us. It’s not just what they grew, but it’s all the way to the shelf into the soul.
Matt Baum: 18:12 See, I don’t think there’s another crop or product or even manufactured product where the people that grew it or made the raw materials get anything on the backend. That is truly incredible.
Jane Pinto: 18:26 Thank you, Matt. We really feel excited about that. We feel like it is something we’re doing that is true respect and reciprocity for the farmers. We can’t live without them.
Matt Baum: 18:39 Again, bad capitalism but the right way to do it.
Jane Pinto: 18:44 Right. Good capitalism. Reciprocity is profitable.
Matt Baum: 18:48 We have to stop thinking of the evil capitalism as the good capitalism. Right?
Jane Pinto: 18:52 That’s just the way of … I hope and I believe it’s the way of the future. If we don’t do this for our planet and for each other, we won’t be here. I think people are waking up to this.
Matt Baum: 19:07 You said you’re working with several different farmers. What states are you guys in right now?
Jane Pinto: 19:12 This first year, we’re in Northern New Mexico and Colorado. We are having planning meetings this Thursday and Friday on where we’re going next. I believe we have a beautiful group of farmers in the Selma area, and I believe that will bring transformative healing on so many levels. I hope that’s our next big group of farmers.
Matt Baum: 19:42 That’s amazing.
Jane Pinto: 19:43 We’ve been talking with them, and they’re incredible people. That soil is beautiful, and that feels like regenerative practices and transformative acts on every level.
Matt Baum: 19:58 Wow. That’s amazing. You said your extractor is coming next week.
Jane Pinto: 20:03 Yes.
Matt Baum: 20:04 What kind of extraction are you guys going to be using?
Jane Pinto: 20:07 We’re using an extractor from Cool Clean. We really respect those guys, their practices, their technology and who they are. That’s CO2. We really want pure … I would say we’re more boutique artisan than some extractor that can do a whole state. We’re not one of those 100,000-square foot facilities. We’ll have small footprints in many places. Making a big difference is really how we feel our path will go.
Matt Baum: 20:46 That also allows to help more people locally as well as opposed to one big place with a few jobs. You can spread it out and spread the love, right?
Jane Pinto: 20:57 Yeah, definitely. We just want to share this with the farmers in their rural communities. I think we can make a big difference that way. I think we’ll really have a pure quality product, and we’re going to be certified organic at our different First Crop Commons where our extractors are, and we will definitely be partnering and be … We’ll be partners in communities. That’s what I think really matters.
Matt Baum: 21:29 You guys have quite the scheme going here. I like it. It’s undermining the way we think of farm to table, but it makes a whole lot of sense. You know what I mean? As opposed to just going and buying produce from people. You’re helping them to create it the way that you need it created to do what you need it to do and the responsible way for the land as well. That’s brilliant. It’s like guerrilla environmentalism, if you will.
Jane Pinto: 21:59 I hope so. I know that is our true intention. I know it’s how we are all moving forward and how we’re living and being. I believe it’s time for businesses like ours, and I know there’s many more, and I’m so happy about that. People are really looking at how to do things better.
The nurturing power of women in hemp
Matt Baum: 22:16 Women like you too. Don’t forget that, women-driven businesses, female-driven business popping-
Jane Pinto: 22:21 What?
Matt Baum: 22:27 I said women like you. Don’t forget that. It’s really important.
Jane Pinto: 22:30 Hey, listen. That’s right. I love my male brothers. I am someone who’s had a long, beautiful marriage. I understand that there’s been oppression with women, but there’s been oppression with men as well.
Matt Baum: 22:47 Sure.
Jane Pinto: 22:48 We have to just get in harmony, hold each other’s hands now, treat each other with a lot of respect. I believe the more female hearts that come forward and bring vision and just transformative soul companies to the world and bring their great brothers beside them and great sisters, man. We’re in good shape.
Matt Baum: 23:09 Absolutely.
Jane Pinto: 23:11 We’re going to be in good shape.
Matt Baum: 23:11 You know what? I think the men whine about it more than the women. I think you guys are way tougher than we are to tell you the truth.
Jane Pinto: 23:18 Highly possible, Matt, but you guys are pretty great too.
Matt Baum: 23:22 Hey, we do our best. As poor, dumb old boys, we do what we can, but it’s very cool. I haven’t been in the hemp world very long. I’m learning along with people that listen to this show. This is about my hemp education. In meeting a lot of people, I cannot believe how many women are coming up in this industry, and I can’t speak to the rest of the agriculture industry, but it sure does seem like there is a much larger percentage of female-driven farmers, businesses, producers, lawyers even that are behind the hemp industry. I think it’s fantastic.
Jane Pinto: 23:57 Well, I don’t think it’s by mistake. I think there is a divine universal power. If women are the … They bring love first, nurturing, fierceness. They’re just pure and true. That’s what this plant is. It makes total sense to me that if this is a transformative plant that comes from heart and humility that it would be drawing women around the globe and will continue to because that’s what we care about. We care about being involved in those kinds of things. Mother Earth is calling us all to do this. I believe we will see great women in hemp, great women.
Matt Baum: 24:43 Sister Jane, it sounds like you’re doing it the right way, and I’m glad you’re out there. I don’t want to take up anymore of your time. This has been excellent. Thank you so much for coming on the show.
Jane Pinto: 24:51 Thank you.
Matt Baum: 24:51 I’m glad we got it figured out finally. You said-
Jane Pinto: 24:55 Yeah, we got it figured out.
Matt Baum: 24:56 Yeah. You said January is when we can start looking for your products.
Jane Pinto: 25:01 Absolutely. We’ll definitely be … First Crop will be out as soon as we can and completely in gratitude to everyone in this hemp world who’s helping each other, and we’ve had so much help from so many people in the industry, and you’re one of them. Look at you doing these stories.
Matt Baum: 25:18 Yeah. Someone has got to get the good word out there.
Jane Pinto: 25:21 Thanks so much.
Matt Baum: 25:22 Ministry of Hemp will be sure to follow you. When your stuff does start coming out, we’ll be sure to talk about it on the website. I’d love to have you back on when you guys are getting ready to actually go to market and we’ll talk again.
Jane Pinto: 25:34 Thank you so much.
Matt Baum: 25:35 Absolutely. Jane, you have a wonderful evening. Okay?
Jane Pinto: 25:39 Okay. You too. Be well.
Matt Baum: 25:40 All right, thank you.
Final thoughts on women in hemp
Matt Baum: 25:49 Jane is one of an ever growing population of women in the hemp business. I don’t know if it’s because the world has changed and more women are getting involved in agriculture and that’s why I’m noticing so many women working in the hemp industry, but it really is encouraging. It’s women like Jane that are going to help keep this business in check and make sure that farmers are growing at the right way and producers are handling the product responsibly and treating it with respect. Thank you again to Jane and First Crop. You can find out more about Jane Pinto and First Crop in the notes for this very show.
Matt Baum: 26:31 That about does it for this episode of the Ministry of Hemp Podcast, but I want to thank everybody that listens in and helps out. As always, you can call us and leave your hemp related questions at (402) 819-6417. I’m getting ready to do another hemp Q&A show with Kit, the editor-in-chief of Ministry of Hemp. You may have heard some of the earlier ones we did. They’re a lot of fun and you guys have such great questions. If you don’t want to call in, you can always email me, firstname.lastname@example.org or you can drop your question on Twitter at Ministry of Hemp or Facebook\ministryofhemp. We want to hear from you guys. If you like the show, please give us a star rating. Give us a thumbs up, whatever works best at your favorite podcast app, but it really does help get this information into the ears of people that want to hear it.
Matt Baum: 27:44 The Ministry of Hemp Podcast is written, produced and edited by me. When you do that, I really appreciate it. Thank you. As always, you can find a full written transcript for the show in the show notes along with all of our social media, our phone number, and any other links that I mentioned. They’ll all be right there.
Matt Baum: 28:04 Thanks again for listening and downloading, but for now, remember to take care of yourself, take care of others, and make good decisions, will you? This is Matt Baum with the Ministry of Hemp signing off.