Viterra Inc. has announced net earnings of $78 million for the first quarter of 2012, compared to $101 million in the same quarter of 2011, according to the company's latest financial report.

“Viterra delivered impressive first quarter results despite the challenging economic environment," said Mayo Schmidt, Viterra’s president and CEO. "Our vertically integrated business model and irreplaceable assets in strategic locations proved resilient." As fiscal 2012 progresses, strong grain prices should continue to drive solid returns for producers as well as demand for crop inputs, according to the company. In addition, in Western Canada seeded acreage is expected to increase which should be beneficial for crop input demand.

In western Canada, the majority of the 6 to 8 million acres that were affected by excess moisture in the spring of 2011 are expected to return to production in the upcoming season. Barring further widespread adverse weather events, Viterra is forecasting that western Canadian seeded acreage will total approximately 57 to 59 million acres in 2012, an increase of about 8 percent to 10 percent from last season. This favorable forecast is still below the 10-year average of approximately 60 million acres.

Given strong oilseed pricing, canola acreage is also expected to increase from the record 18.5 million acres that were planted in 2011 and range from 18.5 to 19.5 million acres in the upcoming season, barring adverse weather events. This increase should be reflected in the company’s seed and crop input sales.