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Barley Growers Hope Anheuser-Busch Market Remains

North Dakota, a national leader in barley production, hopes to maintain its market relationship with Anheuser-Busch despite takeover by Belgian brewer InBev.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- A North Dakota Barley Council official said growers are waiting for more information about the $52 billion takeover of Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. by Belgian brewer InBev SA.

"I'm not going to speculate on anything. It's going to take time for any details of the transaction to be disclosed," said Steve Edwardson, the Barley Council administrator.

The deal for the maker of Budweiser and Bud Light beers was announced Monday. It is expected to close by year-end, creating the third-largest consumer product company.

"From the growers' standpoint, we would hope that the solid relations with Anheuser Busch and the malting industry would continue under the new structure," Edwardson said. "We would hope the merger will continue to allow growers to have a good, strong relationship with the firm and a continuing market for our barley."

North Dakota is a national leader in barley production, with an estimated 1.5 million acres planted this year and some 5,500 barley growers. The state is projected to harvest 75.6 million bushels of barley, down 3 percent from last year due to dry conditions in some areas.

Prices are up from last year, to around $5.85 to $6.70 a bushel for malt barley, Edwardson said. A good share of the state's crop is grown in the north central part of the state, around Bottineau County, he said.

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