Cargill has reported a 68 percent decline in earnings for the quarter ended Feb. 28. Officials note that all five of the company's business units have been impacted by the global economic downturn.

Cargill officials said net earnings were $326 million in the company's 2009 fiscal third quarter, down from a record $1.03 billion from the same period last year.

In the first nine months of its fiscal year, Cargill earned $3.01 billion, up 4 percent from $2.9 billion a year ago. Excluding earnings from its majority investment in the Mosaic Company, however, Cargill's results were below year-ago levels in both the third-quarter and nine-month period, reports

Although performance within the company's five business segments was mixed, many saw weaker demand and reduced sales volumes. There also were fewer trading opportunities as markets fluctuated within narrower ranges, company officials report.

"Cargill's earnings turned down in the third quarter, as the global economy and financial system troubles arrived at our company's doorstep," said Greg Page, Cargill chairman and chief executive officer, in a news release. He pointed out that Cargill began preparing for tougher times last summer by cutting expenses, decreasing debt and curtailing non-base capital spending.

"When conditions come into place for a recovery on the broader economic front, with our fundamentals in place, we'll be ready to build on those trends," Page added.

Cargill has 160,000 employees in 67 countries.