Cenex Harvest States Cooperatives today reported earnings of $5.0 million for the first half of its fiscal year, which ended February 29, 2000, a decline of $11.9 million, or 71 percent, from $16.9 million for the same period the previous year.

For the second quarter of fiscal 2000 (December 1999 – February 2000), it reported a net loss of $4.1 million, compared with net earnings of $8.6 million for the same period in 1998.

Company officials said ongoing global market conditions, including weakness in plant food manufacturing businesses, and high crude oil prices impacted earnings and sales through the second quarter.

Consolidated net sales for the six-month period of $3.9 billion were up 19 percent from $3.3 billion the previous year. Consolidated sales for the second quarter were $1.9 billion, up $353 million or 22 percent from the previous year. The volume of grain handled increased to 605 million bushels for the six months ending February 2000, compared with 564 million bushels during the same period a year ago.

“The continued stress in agriculture, particularly within two of our key business areas, has impacted our earnings as well as economics at local cooperatives and on the farm,” said John Johnson, president and general manager. “Our emphasis continues to be helping producers gain additional value from what they raise through stronger links to consumers through food manufacturers.”

Cenex Harvest States is a producer-to-consumer cooperative system owned by farmers, ranchers and their local co-ops from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Northwest and from the Canadian border to Texas. This fully integrated agricultural foods cooperative operates petroleum oil refineries/pipelines and provides a wide variety of products and services ranging from grain marketing to food processing. Through a broad range of working partnerships, Cenex Harvest States also markets and distributes energy products, agronomic inputs and feed to rural America, as well as grain and processed food products to customers around the world.