It is often said that farmers are faithful, optimistic people. It takes a special kind of person to put a seed in the ground, help birth a calf or watch a chick hatch from an egg – to knowingly start down the path to turn that small beginning into food and fiber for the world.This week we held our annual Georgia Ag Forecast seminars across the state. This long-running partnership between the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Georgia Farm Bureau, Farm Credit of Southwest Georgia and Georgia Department of Agriculture, with support from Georgia Agribusiness Council, is part of our commitment to get the best information from the university to farmers, ranchers and green industry producers so they can make the best planning, planting and production decisions.Farming is always an uncertain enterprise. The year past was and the year ahead will be no different. Even with the best available research in hand for planning, farmers find themselves at the mercy of the weather, the markets and nature. This year alone, our farmers faced low commodity prices, a hurricane and severe drought.And then there’s the ever-changing policy element to factor in.In the year ahead, Congress will begin to hammer out a new national farm bill that will guide our agricultural policy for the next five years. It’s a daunting task that involves everything from crop insurance to commodity programs, from rural development to the nation’s nutrition programs.This year, Georgia is fortunate to have tremendous leaders in Washington in key positions. President Donald Trump named former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as his secretary of agriculture nominee. U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton, is chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit. U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Columbus, was named ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies. Former Georgia Farm Bureau President Zippy Duval is now president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.In addition, U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Georgia, serves on the Senate agriculture committee and U.S. Reps. David Scott, D-Smyrna, and Rick Allen, R-Augusta, serve on the House agriculture committee. These appointments prove that Georgia is fertile ground for growing strong national leaders in agriculture.UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences has worked hand in hand with these leaders for many years to ensure that Georgia agriculture continues to be a major part of the U.S. food system, providing the needed research and education to keep our industry strong and our food supply secure.While nature and economics will always be fickle, our commitment to Georgia’s faithful farmers remains strong. The forecast is indeed bright.
A game-ready virtual reality headset from Sony priced at $399 (roughly Rs 30,000) seems too good to be true in every sense of the word. But, that’s precisely what happened at the Video Game Developers Conference in San Francisco: Sony indeed came up with such a thing, for real . Long-term fans (and enthusiasts) must be super excited (read super crazy) for when the PlayStation VR officially goes on sale in October later this year.The PlayStation VR requires a PlayStation 4 console (among other things) to work and there are as many as 36 million people who already have one. For those who don’t, Sony just gave them a good reason to invest in one. Even more so, if you’re into gaming. Wonder what Microsoft’s been up to?Right, it has been working to unite Xbox One and PS4 Networks even as it sees a dip in its overall gaming hardware revenue. For Microsoft, Xbox One sales aren’t as important to them anymore. Consumer engagement is. The Redmond giant’s priorities lie elsewhere now. Xbox Live, not Xbox One is its new primary metric for success. No wonder we are talking cross-network play (that could include the rival platform at some point of time should Sony oblige) all of a sudden.Let’s keep sales figures aside for a second and delve into the bigger picture. Which of these companies is actually setting the tone for innovation at the moment? It is Sony.2016 marks the year that VR became a broader reality. Sony’s been a part of it and judging the book by the cover, the PlayStation VR makes much more sense than rival biggies, namely the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive , especially for gamers. For starters, it is the price point. $399 for a game-ready VR headset sounds so very compelling. Of course you’ll have to dish out extra to buy the PlayStation Camera (which is a must to make the thing work and costs about $60) and/or the Move motion controllers (that cost about $50 a piece). Meanwhile, the PS4 console comes at around $349. Should you buy them all, the package will cost you about $900. The Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive are priced at $599 and $799 respectively but both of them will require a rig that would cost an additional $1,000.advertisementSecondly, it’s the content. “Content will be a strong factor in engaging fans,” Tony Key, senior vice president, sales and marketing, Ubisoft was quoted by Reuters as saying. Ubisoft has at least two games — Eagle Flight and Werewolves Within — set to launch for PlayStation VR this fall. According to Sony, over 230 developers are already building content specific to the platform and as many as 50 games are expected to be ready by the time of launch. That’s not all; the company also has a PlayStation VR exclusive Star Wars Battlefront game up its sleeve which is being co-developed by EA Sports and Lucasfilm.Basically, Sony has checked in all the right boxes — innovation as well as user engagement — with the PlayStation VR.While Microsoft may boast about greater user engagement (with respect to the Xbox One), it most certainly has little to say about innovation at the moment. It certainly has HoloLens to its credit, but that’s a different story altogether, besides being way out of reach for many (the developer kit costs $3,000 and there’s no word yet on a consumer release). It is high time that Microsoft chalks out some kind of definite plan for the Xbox One, especially for its long-term fans.