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President Roosevelt's plea for crop insurance comes as a pleasant indication that the long-heralded farm program is not an idle promise, and that something will at least be attempted before the next harvest period. Never has assistance to the farmer been so vital to the welfare of the whole nation as at the present time. With returning industrial activity and the mid-winter flood disasters combining to make many a farmer's prospect seem proportionately gloomier than that of his countrymen, some measure is inevitable, and the one suggested by the President appears logical and sound.

Only a Federal agency can have sufficient resources to swing a crop insurance scheme. Consequently, there will be every opening for misuse of funds and playing of politics unless Congress makes express provisions to counteract them. Again, the lawmakers must provide for adequate appraisal of land values, as farmers could otherwise overstate their expected yield. A well-considered law must allow for these and allied abuses, and seek to minimize the wastage due to government handling of the job. Otherwise the costs of the gigantic scheme could be utterly prohibitive.

Further, the scheme must be run according to accepted insurance principles, with premiums carefully rated and understood by all parties. Only as a business proposition, minus the profit incentive, can this plan be made workable. All disguised subsidizing must be systematically kept out of the picture if the government is to carry out its proposed plan.

If such limitations as these are thoughtfully recognized by the legislators in Washington, a perfectly rational and practical system of crop insurance appears possible. There is every cause for the desirability of stabilizing farm buying power in this way, and the heartening of farmers through protection against hail, drought and grasshoppers.

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