COULD 'commission rates war' break out in the normally steady business of auctioneering? Probably not, but Aberdeen and Northern Marts' move this week to reduce commission rates will certainly ruffle a few feathers.

If nothing else, it proves emphatically that a proper investment in road infrastructure does pay dividends for business within its scope of progress. The Aberdeen bypass – properly known as the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route – might have been a pain in the butt (not to say, also a significant provider for those that it passed through) has opened up a whole new territory for the company to the south of Aberdeen by knocking 40 minutes to an hour off what used to be a tortuous journey.

So much so, that it's a good bet that ANM wishes a similar and planned improvement to the A96, which would connect it to whole swathe of Morayshire, would progress at a rate of knots.

There will be many businesses wishing that similar improvements could be made to the logistics of their infrastructure also – and the south-west of Scotland comes to mind on this one. Auction businesses have been quite adept at getting close to major road links and this is now a major factor in maintaining their popularity, given that making things 'easier' is the modern way.

It will be interesting to see if ANM's bold move sparks changes in other auction house businesses and it could also be a catalyst for restructuring changes. There will surely be a few boardroom exchanges on this very topic over the next few weeks.

A vibrant auction system is in everyone's interest and the newer markets all have other agricultural businesses gravitating to them. That is the way of it and those that are not able to offer such add-one benefits, will have to work very hard at maintaining footfall.

Given that there is already consolidation south of the Border, it's going to be an interesting 2020 for auction marts in Scotland.

Making up for losses

NFU Scotland has scored a major success in persuading refinery giant, Petroineos, to reduce the amount of the 'bio' part of its diesel until the cause of the devastating effects the 'dodgy diesel' scandal had on many businesses the length and breadth of Scotland.

Hats off to those around the negotiating table and to the refinery for listening. But it begs the question, why was it ever allowed to happen in the first place and why is no compensation being sought or offered.

Several thousand homes in Central Scotland were this week left without gas for heating and cooking. They have been immediately compensated and alternative heating offered. Is having your machinery break down because of an issue with fuel any different?