Land O'Lakes Inc. on Wednesday reported third-quarter net earnings of $18 million, a solid performance anchored in the company's dairy and animal feed businesses.

The Arden Hills-based co-operative posted sales of $3 billion, up from $2.8 billion a year earlier. Profits bounced back from a $30 million loss in last year's third quarter, when dairy market declines coupled with the timing of corporate expenses and investments led to red ink.

"We are pleased to report a strong third quarter, driven by significantly improved results in Dairy Foods and sharply higher earnings in our Feed operations, Purina Animal Nutrition," Land O'Lakes CEO Chris Policinski said in a statement.

Year to date, the co-op reported sales of $10.4 billion compared with $9.7 billion in 2011's first nine months. Earnings for the first three quarters were $150 million compared with $138 million a year ago.

Land O'Lakes said its pesticide and herbicide business, WinField, is on track for a record year.