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1st batch of avian flu emergency aid clears House

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The first batch of emergency money to help Minnesota agencies combat the spread of the avian flu affecting poultry farms is one step from Gov. Mark Dayton's desk.

The House unanimously approved a compromise measure that frees up $893,000 to help the Department of Agriculture and the Board of Animal Health pay for response efforts. A Senate vote was expected Thursday, as was Gov. Mark Dayton's quick signature.

To date, the bird flu has affected 67 turkey farms in 19 counties. Millions of birds have been killed, either from the virus itself or from flocks being euthanized once companion birds were stricken.

Minnesota lawmakers could take further steps yet this year. They include making the agriculture disaster eligible for other emergency accounts or extending low interest loans to affected farmers.

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