The Howards (plaintiff) grew tobacco on their land. In 1973, their tobacco crops were severely damaged by heavy rains. They filed a claim with their insurer, Federal Crop Insurance Corp. (FCIC) (defendant). The Howards harvested and sold the remaining crop, and they filed timely notice and proof of loss with FCIC. However, before FCIC could inspect the Howards' tobacco fields, the Howards plowed the fields to plant a cover crop for soil preservation. FCIC denied the Howards' claim, asserting that the insurance policy required an inspection prior to destroying a crop for which a loss is claimed. Paragraph 5(b) of the Howards' policy stated that "[i]t shall be a condition precedent to the payment of any loss that the insured . . . furnish any other information regarding the manner and extent of loss as may be required by [FCIC].” Paragraph 5(f) of the policy stated that “[t]he tobacco stalks . . . with respect to which a loss is claimed shall not be destroyed until [FCIC] makes an inspection.” The Howards brought suit against FCIC to recover their losses. The district court granted summary judgment to FCIC after finding that the language in paragraph 5(f) was a condition precedent to recovery with which the Howards failed to comply. The Howards appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.