Hemp held the same precious value for the early Mormon pioneers that it should today, with its multiple uses for fabrics, rope and food (plus much more that we know about now that the Mormons most likely did not). The Deseret Agricultural and Manufacturing Society hosted one of their annual exhibitions in 1860 awarding prizes to farmers for several crops, including hemp. Prizes from 1$ to 5$ were also given out for manufactured farming equipment designed to improve the harvesting and processing of hemp. All of this was recorded in a Deseret News article from January 21st, of 1928.
Brigham Young first gave the challenge to the Mormon people in 1847 to spread out through the area and see which key crops the church could maintain and grow in the arid climate. The Saints tried cotton, flax, corn, wool, hemp and even a brief experiment in silk. Hemp was reported to have grown best in the southeast and the Wasatch Valley.
It doesn’t appear that the Utah Saints grew great amounts of hemp and the experiment had certainly ended by the time the tax act of 1937 was issued. None the less it was proven that hemp could compete with most crops in Utah and even succeed above and beyond some staples. Ironic and sad that the United States eventually outlawed a crop and material that even the Nation of Deseret valued. One hundred and fifty years later we are finally celebrating Hemp History Week in an effort to bring the crop back. Visit Vote Hemp for more info.