Today’s quick hits, April 9, 2020

Coronavirus cases top 80 at Smithfield plant (Sioux Falls Argus Leader): The South Dakota secretary of health said that more than 80 employees at a Smithfield meat processing plant have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Covid-19 causes more plant closings (Meatingplace): Cargill closed a beef and pork plant in Hazelton, Pennsylvania, to minimize risk in a community “greatly impacted by Covid-19,” and Maple Leaf Foods suspended operations at its poultry plant in Brampton, Ontario, while it investigates three Covid-19 cases at the facility.

Ethanol production drops (Ethanol Producer Magazine): With gasoline demand falling due to the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. production of fuel-grade ethanol fell 20 percent during the week that ended April 3, reaching its lowest one-week total since the Energy Department began tracking weekly data in mid-2010.

Dems target Ernst (The Hill): Approval ratings for Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, are down by 10 points from a year ago, and Democrats have booked millions of dollars of ad time in hopes of defeating her and gaining control of the Senate.

JBS ‘confident’ of safety (Greeley Tribune): The chief executive of JBS USA said he was “100 percent confident the people who enter the plant are safe,” despite the Covid-19 death of a supervisor at a JBS meatpacking plant in Greeley, Colorado.