WASHINGTON – The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is funding $16 million in grants to support education, extension initiatives and research aimed at improving food production and increasing food security, the US Department of Agriculture reported.

The grants are part of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Food Security program. The goal for 2015 is to develop more sustainable, productive and economically viable plant and animal production systems, USDA said. This program also will include work to develop regionally-adapted crop cultivars and livestock breeds that contribute to rural economic development while enhancing food security.

"Agricultural production is inextricably linked to the health of our nation, and every American deserves access to safe, nutrient-rich food," said Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director. "This funding will increase food security by improving agricultural production systems at the regional and national levels and by encouraging diverse agricultural production."

A letter of intent is due April 2, 2015, and full applications are due June 4, 2015. Additional program information is available on the USDA website.