ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Minnesota turkey growers are giving special thanks this Thanksgiving.

The state’s turkey industry is recovering from a deadly avian flu outbreak earlier this year that killed millions of birds.

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But going into this Thanksgiving holiday demand is high, and turkey prices are averaging 78 cents to 99 cents a pound, about the same as last year, according to the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association.

None of this was certain just a few months ago, when millions of birds died from the avian flu, or had to be euthanized.

“Our situation went from the Canadian border all the way to the Iowa border,” said David Frederickson, the Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture. “So we were called on to respond to the situation up and down the state of Minnesota, at literally the same time.”

Turkey industry officials estimate 9 million birds died from the flu, including 5 1/2 million turkeys and 4 1/2 million chickens.

Ninety-nine of the 104 turkey farms hit by the flu are now re-stocked, and up and running.

To promote Minnesota’s turkey industry, top state officials held the traditional, lighthearted Thanksgiving week presentation of the turkey.

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Gov. Mark Dayton named the bird after the Green Bay Packers quarterback who defeated the Vikings Sunday.

“I’m going to name him Aaron, after what happened yesterday on the field,” said Dayton, laughing.

But just ahead of the winter freeze, farmers remain on high alert.

There’s elevated testing and surveillance, and emergency bio-security measures.

And turkey production is not yet at previous tops-in-the-nation levels.

“By the end of this year, I expect that we will be back in full production,” said Turkey Growers Association Executive Director Steve Olson. “And by the beginning of next year — knock on wood– hopefully we will be in full production and hopefully won’t have to deal with this. Hopefully this is one and done.”

Minnesota’s turkey farmers usually produce about 46 million birds a year.

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In 2015, after the flu, that number will be closer to 40 million birds.