The toll from the bird flu in Minnesota has now topped 3 million birds, as four more turkey flocks were struck, regulators reported Monday.
Meanwhile, the lethal H5N2 virus has encroached deeper into the nation's largest egg-producing state, hitting four more Iowa farms with over 2.2 million chickens, the Iowa Department of Agriculture reported Monday.
The four new outbreaks reported in Minnesota, the nation's largest turkey-producing state, involved 202,000 birds. Two of them were in central Minnesota's Kandiyohi County, the state's largest turkey producer and the county with the most bird flu cases at 19.
The flu has now struck 55 Minnesota farms in 18 counties, including a chicken egg-laying operation with 260,000 hens and a back-yard poultry flock. The amount of turkeys lost is equivalent to about 6 percent of Minnesota's annual turkey production.
The new Iowa cases included an egg-laying operation with 1.7 million hens in northwestern Iowa's Sioux County.
Iowa previously had three cases of the bird flu, including the nation's single biggest outbreak at an Osceola County egg operation right on the border of southwestern Minnesota, which had 3.8 million hens. After surfacing this winter, the bird flu has since shown up in 16 states, hitting the Upper Midwest particularly hard.
The bird flu is believed to be carried by wild waterfowl that don't get sick from the virus. The flu does not pose a food safety threat and is a low risk to human health. There have been no human cases reported in this country.
Gov. Mark Dayton on Monday afternoon convened a meeting of the state Executive Council, extending to 30 days a state bird flu emergency order he declared last week. Dayton is asking for $7.34 million to help several state agencies battle the virus.
Last week, both the House and Senate approved almost $900,000 in emergency funds for the state Department of Agriculture and Board of Animal Health. But Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk said the costs are adding up quickly, and the Minnesota Management and Budget has recalculated how much money is needed.
In Minnesota on Monday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar said the federal government is committed to aiding the turkey farmers who suffered losses. Farmers bear the financial hit for birds actually killed by the flu, but the USDA is indemnifying them for the costs of euthanized birds. The majority of felled birds have been killed out of precaution.
On Friday, the USDA said it had a pot of $84 million to cover poultry growers nationally for indemnities, and so far it has received $60 million in claims.
Minnesota turkey farmers have questioned whether $84 million will be enough. Klobuchar said she talked with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack on Saturday, and "he is committed to keeping the funding going."
If needed, "we will go to Congress to get more funds," Klobuchar told the Star Tribune in an interview. Klobuchar was meeting with government officials, turkey farmers and turkey industry executives in Litchfield.
Staff reporters Patrick Condon and J. Patrick Coolican contributed to this report.