The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture announced more than 3.8-million dollars through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative yesterday to support grants focused on using nanotechnology to find solutions to societal challenges. NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy says advances in nanotechnology help secure a healthy food supply by enabling cost-effective methods for the early detection of insects, diseases and other contaminants, improve plant and animal breeding and create high value-added products of nano-biomaterials for food and non-food applications.

Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Jason Weller announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will extend the deadline to provide public comment on the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program’s interim rule until May 28, 2015. ACEP is designed to help landowners protect working agricultural lands and wetlands. The 2014 Farm Bill consolidated three previous conservation easement programs into ACEP to make it easier for diverse agricultural landowners to fully benefit from conservation initiatives.