Aberdeen and Northern Marts (ANM) may well have fired the first shots in a war over livestock commission rates at Scottish markets.
ANM, which is one of the country’s largest farmer owned co-operatives, has introduced reductions in the commission rates paid by shareholders in the group.
Members’ commission rates will reduce on all stock.
They will be as low as three per cent for prime cattle, prime sheep and feeding ewes and will apply to all sales at Thainstone and Caithness auction marts from January 1, 2020.
The maximum charge will fall to 3.5 per cent from 3.8 per cent.
The changes are said to be part of a strategic move by ANM to build greater value for members and to reward loyalty.
The lower rates will not affect the payment of annual dividends on investments.
For all other livestock customers, commission rates will be held at the current levels.
Grant Rogerson, chief executive of ANM Group, said: “The new commission rates set new standards in value for the farming community.
“However, access to these rates will be exclusive to the members of our co-operative – existing and new customers can easily unlock these rates by investing as little as £500 in our community-owned business.
“This positive step will further enhance benefits for members. But this is just the start – the more members that use the mart, the more we can support them and their businesses.
“That is the unique benefit of our co-operative business model.”
Pete Watson, group chairman, added: “We have arranged a special board meeting towards the end of December to allow us to approve new member applications, ensuring everyone who wants to, can take advantage of the new rates from January 1.
“We look forward to welcoming many new members to our co-operative.”
Expansion plans at ANM have been given a boost by the recent opening of the Aberdeen West Peripheral route which signficantly cuts journey times from the south to its Thainstone market at Inverurie.
Lawrie and Symington (L&S) operate the Forfar Mart, ANM’s nearest neighbour to the south.
Hamish McCall, managing director for L&S at Lanark and Forfar, said: "We are not of a mind to cut commission rates.
"We are not in a position to do so a at time when margins are already tight for livestock marts."