Canada's largest publicly traded agribusiness cooperative, Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, has reported first-quarter EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation, of C$1.2m (US$0.77m), down from $17.0m in the first quarter of last year as severe weather conditions continued to wreak havoc on the western Canadian agricultural industry.

Low carry-over and dramatic production declines, followed by excess moisture and freezing temperatures delayed harvest and severely reduced the quality of grains and oilseeds available to the industry, driving down Saskatchewan Wheat Pool's volumes and sales.

The company recorded consolidated sales and operating revenues in the first quarter of fiscal 2003 of $469.5m, down 11% from the first quarter of 2002 after excluding sales from companies that were sold last year. Excluding the impact of divested companies, the company said the reduction was primarily related to low grain volumes, coupled with lower earnings from the company's pork production operations.

The first quarter operating loss, prior to interest and taxes (EBIT) was $11.8m compared to a loss of $0.8m in the first quarter last year, prior to a gain on sale of the company's livestock affiliate. The net loss for the period was $15.6m, slightly better than the comparable $15.7m loss last year prior to the gain on sale.