WILLMAR, Minn. (WCCO) — State and federal forces are teaming up to combat the spread of bird flu through Minnesota’s turkey flocks.

Forty-six flocks in 16 Minnesota counties have already been affected, causing the deaths of more than 2.9 million birds.

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Governor Mark Dayton and Senator Al Franken were in Willmar Saturday to meet with emergency responders and poultry producers and talk about the ongoing response to the virus in Minnesota.

The governor’s last stop on a tour of turkey farms was in Willmar. He toured a poultry testing lab as well as an emergency operations center in the central Minnesota town that’s home to Jennie-O, the country’s second biggest poultry producer.

Gov. Dayton assured turkey producers and the public that the government is doing everything it can to try to stop the bird flu from spreading any further.

Other lawmakers like Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., came to the town as well.

“I think there needs to be better bio-security,” Re. Peterson said. “And that’s not just here, that’s all over the country.”

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Several turkey producers told the governor that the process of starting over after a confirmed case of the flu was taking too long, and cost a lot of money.

“Every day is another day where they don’t have income and they have expenses,” Gov. Dayton said. “It’s just a very, very difficult situation so we’ll do all we can to help them.”

Health officials assured that the flu offers no risk to humans.

State officials say it will take a collaboration between the government and turkey producers to get the virus under control.

“We heard a lot about specific problems we can help address, but this is going to be a long term problem,” Sen. Franken said.

If a farm does have a confirmed case of the bird flu, those birds are euthanized on site and the bodies are composted.

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Once that process is complete weeks later, then the ground is safe to repopulate and the composted birds can be used as fertilizer.

Kate Raddatz