HELENA, Mont. (AP) -- Gov. Brian Schweitzer is asking Anheuser-Busch, and the company that is trying to take it over, to honor its relationship with Montana farmers as the contentious buyout offer moves forward.
Belgian brewer InBev SA is in the midst of trying to take over the maker of Budweiser. The contentious offer is heading to court -- and the turmoil has made some Northern Plains barley growers uneasy.
Schweitzer said Montana's decades-long relationship with Anheuser-Busch has been beneficial for the company and for barley farmers in the state. He pointed out that roughly 25 percent of Anheuser-Busch's malting barley comes from Montana.
In a letter sent to the company, the governor asks it to honor the partnership as the buyout talks to continue.
"As negotiations move forward, I ask that you honor this long-standing partnership, making sure that the needs of producers in Montana and America remain a priority in the production of Budweiser and other Anheuser-Busch brews," Schweitzer wrote.
Anheuser-Busch did not immediately return a call seeking comment. InBev has so far only promised "a strong commitment to the communities in which Anheuser-Busch operates."
Schweitzer said he worked in the barley business while in college, and understands the importance of the industry to the state.
InBev is based overseas and has so far made no commitment to continue buying barley from the northern plains.
"I don't know how this ends," Schweitzer said. "They buy a lot of malting barley around the world, and none of it they buy in Montana."
Anheuser-Busch is currently fighting the $46 billion takeover offer, claiming that InBev's unsolicited bid is bad for the bottom line and an "illegal scheme" that threatens to defraud Anheuser-Busch shareholders.
InBev is trying to oust Anheuser-Busch's board of directors. It says the takeover would make for a stronger, more competitive global company.
"They have been mum on whether they are going to be buying Montana barley," Schweitzer said of InBev. "Budweiser is the American beer. It is red, white and blue. They buy barley from Montana, and sell the end product to people right here."
Schweitzer called his letter "the opening volley" in the issue.