The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday that signup for losses suffered during the 2008 crop year will begin Jan. 4.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says qualified producers will receive payments beginning next month.
But there are concerns about how strong that safety net will be.
In getting a disaster program included in the latest version of the federal farm bill, lawmakers limited the program's cost, in part, by basing aid on a farmer's total income. Critics worry this could leave a farmer who lost a lot of expensive cotton but made money on corn or soybeans without needed aid.