Land O'Lakes Monday posted a strong first quarter, with net earnings up 74 percent.

The Arden Hills-based farmers cooperative, one of the nation's largest, had first-quarter profits of $125 million, up from $72 million a year a ago. Sales rose 6 percent to $4.3 billion.

"We are pleased to report strong first-quarter results across our entire portfolio of businesses," Chris Policinski, Land O'Lakes CEO said in a statement.

Earnings in Land O'Lakes dairy division were "exceptional," the company said. Rising cheese, butter and milk powder markets all contributed to dairy's performance.

The company's Winfield crop inputs division, which sells fertilizer, seed and pesticides, also reported a strong quarter as it focused on farm sectors with strong growth and profit margin.

Land O'Lakes animal feed segment, which includes the Purina brand, did well. And the company's struggling egg business reported "significantly" improved earnings over a year ago, boosted by lower chicken feed costs. Land O'Lakes is looking to sell much of its egg operations.