RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture spent Thursday in Raleigh hearing some of the issues facing North Carolina farmers.

Secretary Tom Vilsack led a discussion at the North Carolina Rural Center and took questions from the audience.

Vilsack also spent time talking about how he says the Biden administration is improving infrastructure, including broadband and clean water access, in rural areas.

“You’re going to see a massive expansion of broadband here in North Carolina. You’re also going to see roads, bridges, airports, rail systems. That’s going to make it easier for North Carolina businesses and farmers to maintain a competitive edge,” he said.

Vilsack told the audience this is a pivotal moment in agriculture because of a national trend of larger farms but fewer farmers and nearly 50 percent of farmers had negative income last year.

“The goal here is to sort of expand beyond ‘I raise a crop, I grow a crop, I sell it (or) I raise livestock’ to more ways to generate income on a farm so it’s not just two or three ways,” said Vilsack, who also mentioned climate-smart initiatives as one possible source of income for farmers

This was the second day of the secretary’s visit to North Carolina, after spending yesterday in Greensboro.

CBS 17 reached out to the North Carolina Republican Party for a response to the secretary’s visit:

“The Biden administration has delivered nothing but for rural communities and farmers but crushing inflation, energy insecurity and fentanyl pouring into our neighborhoods from across an open and chaotic southern border. Democrat policies are rotting the economy, and the prospects of North Carolina families, from the bottom up and middle out.

Our communities deserve an end to this nightmare by returning to a sound economy, based on free market principles, that can reignite the American dream.”